Andrés Iniesta was the star of the show as Vissel Kobe dominated Urawa Reds, 5-1, for a crucial three points as the Ushi chase a place in next season’s AFC Champions League.
Vissel and Urawa entered the match level on points as two of five teams in the fight for one (or two) remaining spots in next season’s continental competition available through league play, but the clash was not as competitive as the table would have indicated. Vissel, led by Iniesta, were superior from the start.
The home side went in front after just eight minutes thanks to a gorgeous through-ball from Gotoku Sakai, which found Yuya Osako for the early finish.
From there, it was the Iniesta show. First, the superstar doubled Vissel’s lead in the 21st minute when he scored a free kick from 20 yards. The Spaniard closed his hips like he would shoot it near post, but instead curled it around to the far side, bypassing the wall and leaving the goalkeeper wrong-footed as the ball found the net.
Then, Iniesta nearly picked up an assist from a free kick when his inch-perfect delivery was met with a good finish but ultimately ruled offside. Nevertheless, fans only had to wait moments before the Vissel captain took matters into his own hands. In the 34th minute, Iniesta received a pass from 20 yards and hit it hard with his first touch. Aided by a deflection, the ball found its way to goal for the maestro’s second of the match and a 3-0 lead.
Of course, Iniesta was not done. After Urawa got a goal from Yoshio Koizumi, Vissel were back on the attack and Iniesta’s perfect cross from his left foot found Yoshinori Muto’s head for another Ushi goal. Finally, another Spaniard got involved as Bojan Krkić scored to wrap up a comprehensive victory for Vissel that sees them remain in third place.