Group G - MD1: Vissel Kobe (JPN) 5-1 Johor Darul Ta'zim (MAS)
Kobe: Keijiro Ogawa scored a hat-trick and Andres Iniesta was at his influential best as Vissel Kobe kicked off their debut season in the AFC Champions League on Wednesday with a 5-1 win over Johor Darul Ta’zim at the Misaki Park Stadium
Ogawa scored the first, third and fifth goals for Thorsten Fink’s side with Iniesta heavily involved in all three while Kyogo Furuhashi scored arguably the goal of the game to restore Vissel’s lead after Safawi Rashid’s penalty had given JDT a glimmer of hope. Douglas was also on target as Vissel romped to victory.
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Iniesta showed his enduring class to unlock the JDT defence for Vissel’s opener, sending a perfectly weighted ball over the Malaysian side’s back line from inside his own half to release Ogawa and the striker lifted a first-time effort over Farizal Marlias to strike for Kobe.
JDT refused to sit back and less than 15 minutes later the Southern Tigers were level. Gonzalo Cabrera’s attempt to centre the ball hit Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen on the arm and referee Alireza Faghani pointed to the spot. Safawi Rashid made no mistake, confidently slamming the ball into the corner.
FULL-TIME! | @visselkobe 🇯🇵 5-1 @OfficialJohor 🇲🇾— #ACL2020 (@TheAFCCL) February 12, 2020
👏 As emphatic a debut as you'll see at the #ACL! Ogawa's hat-trick and Iniesta's class saw Vissel to a comfortable win in their opener.#VKOvJDT | #ACL2020 pic.twitter.com/hxJ4lNcCU8
Parity was to last little more than a minute, however. Daigo Nishi cut inside from the right before threading the ball through to Furuhashi 20 yards from goal and he stroked his curling first-time shot over Farizal to put Kobe back in front.
Farizal’s quick reactions ensured JDT only trailed by one at the halftime break when he dropped low to his left to pull off a fine save to deny Douglas, whose shot on the turn from outside the area was destined for the bottom corner.
Vissel only had to wait until 13 minutes into the second half before registering their third, and it came after another quality pass from Iniesta as the former Barcelona midfielder slipped the ball into the path of Gotoku Sakai as he galloped forward before cutting back for Ogawa to score.
Douglas then outmuscled Aidil Zafuan to slide his shot past Farizal to score the fourth in the 65th minute while Iniesta bamboozled the JDT defence again four minutes later with a lob towards the far post that left Ogawa with the simplest of headers to complete his hat trick and a famous win for Vissel.
Up next for Vissel Kobe are Korea Republic's Suwon Samsung Bluewings next Wednesday while Johor Darul Ta'zim will next be in action on March 3 when they host Suwon.
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