Vissel edges past Kitchee to open ACL campaign with a win

Vissel Kobe began the Asian Champions League campaign with a win on Tuesday after beating Kitchee SC of Hong Kong 2-1 in Group J at Buriram Stadium in Thailand.

Vissel, sitting bottom of the J. League first division this season after going without a win in 10 games, went 2-0 up in the 85th minute when substitute Shion Inoue scored on a half-volley following good work down the left by Koya Yuruki, who also came off the bench.

Kobe hit the post five minutes in through Tomoaki Makino’s header before going ahead 10 minutes later as the opposing keeper failed to clear a cross and left Yuta Goke with a simple finish.

Without Spanish World Cup winner Andres Iniesta for the group stage, Kobe dominated but took time to double the lead and faced a nervy end to the game after Kitchee’s Alex Akande slotted home in the 91st minute on the break.

Chiangrai United of Thailand are the other side in the three-team Group J after China’s Shanghai Port FC pulled out due to the coronavirus lockdown of their home city.

Urawa Reds, meanwhile, won their second straight game after hammering China’s Shandong Taishan FC 5-0 a night earlier in Group F.

A Takahiro Akimoto tap-in and Alexander Scholz penalty gave them a 2-0 lead at the break before a brace from Alex Schalk, including a superb free-kick, and Kaito Yasui’s long-range strike completed the scoring.

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