Domestic Leagues

East Asia Wrap: Winning starts for defending champions in Japan, Korea Republic


Kuala Lumpur: The J1 League and the K League 1 2021 season kicked off last weekend with the big guns in Korea Republic enjoying winning starts while defending champions Kawasaki Frontale started with a win in Japan as well.

Defending K League champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, 2020 AFC Champions League winners Ulsan Hyundai FC, Pohang Steelers and Suwon Samsung Bluewings all picked up opening day wins.

In the J.League, reigning champions Kawasaki Frontale also started their campaign strongly, while the likes of Gamba Osaka, Kashima Antlers and Yokohoma F. Marinos recorded losses.

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Japan: Huge win for Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo, Kawasaki Frontale off to good start

In the opening match between defending champions Kawasaki Frontale and Yokohama F. Marinos, Akihiro Ienaga emerged the hero of the evening as two his two first half goals proved enough for Kawasaki to beat Ange Postecoglou's side 2-0.

Oita Trinita, meanwhile, came back from a goal down to salvage a 1-1 draw with Tokushima Vortis, thanks to Arata Watanabe's 59th minute goal.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima failed to capitalise on their advantage, as they were held 1-1 by Vegalta Senda.

Sanfrecce's Junior Santos opened the scoring in the 33rd minute, after Mozambican defender Simao Mate Junior was sent off, but Vegalta equalised in the 90th minute through Shuhei Akasaki.

Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo recorded the biggest win of the opening week as they took down Yokohama FC 5-1 victory.

Four-time J.League winners Urawa Red Diamonds failed to secure an opening day win, after FC Tokyo's Masato Morishige cancelled out Yuki Abe's goal in a 1-1 draw.

Shimizu S-Pulse, who finished 16th in the 18-team league last season, came from behind to upset Kashima Antlers 3-1, courtesy of late goals by Thiago Santos Santana, Yusuke Gato and Ayase Ueda.

Sagan Tosu and Vissel Kobe secured 1-0 wins over Shonan Bellmare and Gamba Osaka respectively, placing them in the top seven after Matchday One.

Cerezo Osaka, meanwhile, took full advantage of Kashiwa Reysol's Takumi Kamijima being sent off in the 35th minute to score a 2-0 win thanks to goals from Okubo and Tatsuhiro Sakamoto.

Nagoya Grampus bagged all three points after beating Avispa Fukuoka 2-1. Brazilian midfielder Mateus dos Santos Castro scored in the fourth and 55th minutes, with Yutaka Yoshida's own goal giving Avispa brief hope.


Korea Republic: Joy for Jeonbuk, Pohang, Suwon and Ulsan

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors began their 2021 campaign with a 2-0 win over FC Seoul.

Park Jin-sub's FC Seoul started strongly but an own goal by Kim Won-gun gave Jeonbuk the opening goal with Modou Barrow sealing the win with his effort in the third minute of added time.

Daegu FC, meanwhile, came from a goal down for a 1-1 draw with Suwon FC. Yang Dong-hyen converted a spot-kick near the half-hour mark, but Kim Jin-hyuk's 76th minute equaliser ensured Daegu FC walked away with a point.

A second half revival saw Pohang Steelers beat Incheon United 2-1. Shin Kwang-hoon equalised for Pohang in the 60th minute after Elias Aguilar had opened the scoring for Incheon, with Song Min-kyu scoring the winning goal in the 72nd minute.

Kim Kun-hee's 51st minute goal was enough for Suwon Samsung Bluewings to beat Gwangju FC 1-0 for the three points.

Reigning AFC Champions League holders Ulsan Hyundai FC were simply unstoppable as they beat Gangwon FC 5-0 with Yoon Bit-garam opening the scoring in the 28th minute with a superb free-kick.

The floodgates were opened after Gangwon's Lim Chai-min was sent off in the 53rd minute with Usan scoring through Kim Kee-hee (54th), Lee Dong-jun (57th) and Kim In-sung (64th, 71st).

Seongnam FC, however, were unable to break past Jeju United's defence despite Jin Sung-wook being sent off in the 73rd minute with the two teams settling for a goalless draw.


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Photo: K League Photos

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