Holders Sanfrecce win to kick off 2023 J.League YBC Levain Cup

Holders Sanfrecce win to kick off 2023 J.League YBC Levain Cup

The 2023 J.League YBC Levain Cup is underway!

16 teams kicked off action on Wednesday with the first matches of the group stage. Let’s see how they fared:

Group A

Yokohama F·Marinos started the competition off right, riding a Kaito Suzuki own goal to a 1-0 victory over Júbilo Iwata.

There was nothing to separate Sagan Tosu and Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo in the other Group A contest, although it didn’t come easy for Sagan. A late red card saw them finish the match with 10 men, but they held on for the 0-0 draw.

Group B

Shimizu S-Pulse is top of the group after topping Kawasaki Frontale, 3-2, in Shizuoka. Oh Se-hun and Ryohei Shirasaki scored one minute apart early on and Katsuhiro Nakyama scored late on to lead the home side to all three points and extend Frontale's difficult start to 2023.

Shonan Bellmare and Urawa Reds are tied for second in the group after the two sides played to a scoreless draw in Hiratsuka.

Group C

Sanfrecce Hiroshima won the cup last season and they started off this year’s competition in the same form with a 3-1 win over Yokohama FC. The Fulie scored first through Caprini, but Makoto Mitsuta came off the bench to equalize in the 75th minute, fellow substitute Sho Sasaki found the net five minutes later and an own goal wrapped up the comeback victory for the Viola.

Vissel Kobe’s sparkling league form didn’t carry over to the league as Nagoya Grampus beat them, 2-0. Noriyoshi Sakai was the star, scoring a pair to lead Grampus to victory in Kobe and put them alongside Sanfrecce atop the group.

Group D

Reiju Tsuruno was the difference for Avispa Fukuoka, scoring just before the hour mark for the only goal of the game as Avi beat Albirex Niigata to take over the top spot in Group D.

Kashima Antlers thought they’d taken three points of their own as they entered the 90th minute with a lead thanks to Yuta Matsumura’s first half goal, but Mao Hosoya found the back of the net in the dying minutes to steal a point for Kashiwa Reysol.

Group E

It’s an all-Osaka affair in Group E, with both Gamba Osaka and Cerezo Osaka winning to sit atop the table.

Goals by Yuya Fukuda, Dawhan and Hideki Ishige led the Nerazzuri to a 3-1 victory over Kyoto Sanga, while Capixaba’s tally is all it took for the Sakura to beat F.C.Tokyo, 1-0.