Albirex Niigata have got their J league season off to a winning start. Scoring two goals against the run of play, Niigata were ruthless against the home team.
The usually battling team from Japan’s hokuritsu region were a very different proposition under new manager Yoshida. Rafael Silva got the scoring under way after a cross from the left by Brazilian Cortes. Playing on the left of a three pronged midfield (with two defencive midfielders), Cortes’s contribution was as good as any in his time at Niigata.
The visitors went to the break with that one goal buffer but there was a close call in the 41st minute when Shonan’s Otsuki received the ball in the box and swivelled, before shooting on his left. Luckily for Niigata the effort was rather tame.
Shonan had possession and shots on goal stats in their favour and they gained an obvious ascendency early in the second half. Paulinho’s introduction in the 59th minute only accentuated Shonan’s dominance, but they just couldn’t make it count. The closest they come was in the 62nd minute when Shimamura was unmarked at the far post during a corner, and in the 75th minute when Kazunari Ono charged out to block a Fujita shot.
But Niigata would display a new found cutting edge to finish the match as a contest in the 74 minute. In a speedy transition Masaru Kato fed the ball to a free Yuta Ito. The youngster summed up the situation and sent the ball into the back of the net.
Niigata eventually running out 2-1 winners when they conceded late, courtesy of a Takayama goal.
Elsewhere, Sagan Tosu were winners against local rivals and J1 new chums, Avispa Fukuoka. At home Sagan had goals via Toyoda and Okada, before Wellington pulled one back for Fukuoka. The Brazilian would get a chance to pick up his second in injury time, but his effort was off target.