Kashima Antlers’ Yamazaki Nabisco Cup title defence got off to a rough start on Wednesday with a 1-2 loss to visiting Ventforet Kofu in the group stage’s opening round.
Australian midfielder Billy Celeski opened his account for the Yamanashi outfit after just six minutes, with Brazilian striker Nilson scoring at the start of the second half.
Antlers defender Shuto Yamamoto put the hosts on the board at the hour mark, but an equaliser was not to be found.
Elsewhere, visiting Vissel Kobe were triumphant in a 2-1 come-from-behind win over Jubilo Iwata thanks to goals by Pedro Junior and Leandro.
After the match, Jubilo supporters saluted former defender Masahiko Inoha, who joined Vissel this offseason after being released by the promoted side.
Meanwhile, the Kanagawa Derby between Kawasaki Frontale and Yokohama F. Marinos ended in a 0-0 draw.