Andres Iniesta and Fernando Torres both made their MEIJI YASUDA J1 League debuts for Vissel Kobe and Sagan Tosu respectively on Sunday.
The Spanish World Cup-winning duo moved to Japan over the course of the summer and all eyes were them as they made their competitive bows.
Iniesta came on for Kazuma Watanabe in the 59th minute of Vissel’s clash with Shonan Bellmare to a rousing applause from Noevir Stadium.
However, the ex-Barcelona captain was unable to stave off defeat for Takayuki Yoshida’s men as they fell 3-0 to goals from Keisuke Saka, Mitsuki Saito and Shunsuke Kikuchi.
Torres’s debut didn’t go according to the script either after he was introduced for Kyosuke Tagawa after the break, with Vegalta Sendai getting the better of Sagan 1-0.
In the title race, FC Tokyo played out a 5-2 thriller with Yokohama F. Marinos going five up shortly after the hour mark in a crucial result that sees them close within seven points of league leaders Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
The latter drew 0-0 at Nagoya Grampus and Kawasaki Frontale were also quick to capitalise, beating V-Varen Nagasaki 1-0 thanks to Yu Kobayashi’s winning strike.
In the standout match, Kashima Antlers hit Kashiwa Reysol 6-2 with Yuma Suzuki’s brace helping Genta Oiwa’s troops to their first win in three outings.
Shinzo Koroki’s equaliser saw Urawa Reds fight back to hold Cerezo Osaka 1-1 as neither Consadole Sapporo and Jubilo Iwata were unable to find the breakthrough in a 0-0 result.
Finally, goals from Koya Kitagawa and Douglas saw Shimizu S-Pulse surprise Gamba Osaka 2-1 at Suita City Football Stadium.