J1 Matchweek 1 recap: Goals abound in exciting opening weekend of 2023

J1 Matchweek 1 recap: Goals abound in exciting opening weekend of 2023

The 2023 Meiji Yasuda J1 League season is officially underway! All 18 teams were in action over the weekend in Matchweek 1, kicking off a run to December 3 that will see every team play 34 matches en route to crown a champion.

Let’s check in on the results from the first week of play:

Kawasaki Frontale 1, Yokohama F·Marinos 2

The first match of the season featured the two clubs who have combined to win the last six titles and finished first and second in last year’s table. It was the 2022 champion who prevailed, with first half goals by Takuma Nishimura and Élber starting Marinos’ title defense off right.

Sagan Tosu 1, Shonan Bellmare 5

Yuki Ohashi scored a hat trick as Shonan ran riot against a normally stout Sagan defense in Tosu to pick up arguably the most impressive win of the opening weekend.

F.C.Tokyo 2, Urawa Reds 0

A raucous crowd at Ajinomoto Stadium witnessed a tense match that was decided in the last 30 minutes as an own goal put Gas ahad before Ryoma Watanabe sealed things with a 74th minute tally that handed the home side all three points.

Kyoto Sanga 0, Kashima Antlers 2

Antlers’ big season started right, with first half goals by Diego Pituca and Kei Chinen pacing them to a comfortable win in Kyoto.

Kashiwa Reysol 2, Gamba Osaka 2

Mao Hosoya helped create the opening goal of the game, then after Gamba answered with tallies from Takashi Usami and Dawhan, Reysol’s starlet drew and converted a stoppage time penalty to earn the home side a draw.

Cerezo Osaka 2, Albirex Niigata 2

Albi played fabulously in their return to the top flight, getting the opening goal from Kaito Taniguchi then, after Cerezo took a 2-1 lead, an 80th minute equalizer from Kazuhiko Chiba to take home a well-earned point from Osaka.

Yokohama FC 0, Nagoya Grampus 1

Kasper Junker scored four minutes into his Nagoya debut and the heralded Grampus defense was typically excellent in a comfortable win that spoiled Yokohama’s first match back in J1.

Vissel Kobe 1, Avispa Fukuoka 0

The Ushi’s slow start to 2022 will not be repeated in 2023 as Jean Patric made a smashing debut for Vissel, scoring in the 70th minute to deliver a victory.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima 0, Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo 0

The Viola had some excellent chances, but Takanori Sugeno was excellent in goal to deny them every time and steal a point for Consa.