Urawa beat Hiroshima in J-League opener
Forward Genki Haraguchi scored one goal and assisted another to give Urawa Red Diamonds a 2-1 win over defending champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the opener of the J-League football on Saturday.
It was sweet revenge for Urawa's Serbian coach Mihailo Petrovic -- formerly Hiroshima's coach -- who lost last year's season-opener 1-0 to the same opponents.
"Both teams (have now) lost the opening game of the AFC Champions League, but both Urawa and Hiroshima are excellent teams. I think both teams played an excellent game today," said Petrovic.
"Hiroshima started to put pressure on us after 2-1, but overall we played better. We deserve the victory," he added.
A short pass in the area from Haraguchi to Yosuke Kashiwagi saw the opening goal in the 38th minute.
Haraguchi then scored from a long ball from behind to give Urawa a 2-0 lead in the 51st minute.
Hiroshima managed to pull one back through Koji Morisaki thanks to a direct free kick in the 55th minute.
"I think our team is better than last year. We were very disappointed last year, so we tried to show Urawa's football. We broke their defence line for a pass to score," said Haraguchi.
"It's only the first game of the season. Hopefully, we can pile up three points after three points from each game and be on top of the table in the end," he added.
Cerezo Osaka posted their first opening game win in 14 years when they defeated Albirex Niigata 1-0 with ace striker Yoichiro Kakitani scoring the only goal in the 88th minute.
FC Tokyo outclassed Oita Trinita 2-1 as Ariajasuru Hasegawa struck home the decider, while Brazilian forward Marquinhos scored twice to lead Yokohama Marinos to a 4-2 win over Shonan Bellmare.
Last year's runners-up Vegalta Sendai drew with Ventforet Kofu, Jubilo Iwata came back after an own goal to draw with Nagoya Grampus, and powerhouse Kashima Antlers were held to a draw by Sagan Tosu -- all ending at 1-1.
Shimizu S-Pulse also overcame an own goal to draw with Omiya Ardija 2-2.