The J.LEAGUE YBC Levain CUP is back! As always, it begins with the Group Stage - four groups of four teams each with the top two advancing. There, they will be joined by Kawasaki Frontale, Gamba Osaka, Nagoya Grampus and Cerezo Osaka, Japan’s qualifiers for the AFC Champions League who got a bye through this round of the J.LEAGUE YBC Levain CUP.
Kashima Antlers 3, Sagan Tosu 0
No club has won the J.LEAGUE YBC Levain CUP more than Kashima Antlers, who have lifted the trophy a record six times. And if their opener to this year’s edition was any indication, they are right on track to make it seven. Everaldo scored just 10 minutes into the match, and Ryuji Izumi and Itsuki Someno picked up goals of their own in a dominant Kashima performance to put them top of Group A.
Avispa Fukuoka 2, Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo 3
Consadole did all of their work in the first half, putting three goals in before the break. Douglas scored from the spot at the quarter hour then added another before handing the honors over to Taika Nakashima, who tallied at the end of the half. Avispa Fukuoka put up a fight, with KennedyEgbus Mikuni scoring in the first half and Hisashi Jogo finding the net in the dying minutes, but it wasn’t enough to deny Sapporo a crucial three away points in Group A.
Oita Trinita 1, Vissel Kobe 3
Vissel Kobe were beaten handily, 6-0, in the quarterfinals of this competition last season and are looking to make that right this time around, but to do that they need to make it to the quarterfinals again. They got off to a great start in their pursuit of that in their opener, overcoming an early strike from Oita Trinita with goals from Asahi Masuyama, Yuya Nakasaka and Junya Tanaka to storm back for a win that puts them on top of Group B.
F.C.Tokyo 1, Tokushima Vortis 0
As defending champions, expectations are high for F.C.Tokyo. They conquered the J.LEAGUE YBC Levain CUP last seasonand their fans expect to be back in the final, ready to hoist another trophy at the end of the year. Kyosuke Tagawa made sure they would be on track for just that against Vortis, scoring just before the hour mark for the lone goal of the match. It was a solid three points for the title holders, who are sitting pretty in Group B in their bid to repeat.
Shonan Bellmare 0, Urawa Reds 0
There was no score in this Group C opener, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t much action. The match was wide open for stretches, with Shonan Bellmare unquestionably on the front foot and creating a slew of chances, but that wasn’t enough to deliver three points. The home side scuffed a couple opportunities they would surely like to have back, but their big problem was Zion Suzuki. The Urawa Reds goalkeeper was sublime, denying Shonan time and time again to earn his side an away point to start off the cup.
Kashiwa Reysol 0, Yokohama FC 1
Yokohama FC are sitting pretty atop Group C, and all the more impressively, they did it by winning away. The deciding moment in the match came in the 50th minute when Takumi Kamijima was judged to have tumbled through the back of Sho Ito. The referee pointed to the spot as Kamijima fell to his knees, astounded he had been called for the foul. On the flip side, Ito was thrilled and promptly picked the ball up, drilled the penalty and delivered the visitors three points.
Yokohama F·Marinos 1, Vegalta Sendai 0
It’s been 20 years since Yokohama F·Marinos won their first and only J.LEAGUE YBC Levain CUP. They intend to celebrate that anniversary with another title, and sitting on top of Group D is a good way to make it happen. That’s where they are after Matchweek 1, thanks to Ado Onaiwu. The forward tallied the lone goal of the game in the 16th minute and Marinos saw out the rest of the contest to seal the win.
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 0, Shimizu S-Pulse 0
Neither Sanfrecce nor S-Pulse were able to find a winner in the evening contest at EDION Stadium Hiroshima, but that won’t be much of a worry for either side. Both got off to a quick start in the league with results in their openers and racking up a point apiece in the cup continues an undefeated start to both of their campaigns.