Matchday 2 of the J.LEAGUE YBC LEVAIN Cup took place over the weekend during the international break, so some teams were missing a few key players, but the action in the cup was as hot as ever. Early goals marked the matches, but it was the teams that grabbed three points and jumped out to early leads in their groups that were really important.
Sagan Tosu’s defense has been literally impenetrable in league play, having not conceded a single goal all season, but that hasn’t been the case in the cup. After giving up three in a tournament-opening loss on Matchday 1, they were blasted by Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo over the weekend, 5-1. A pair of own goals in the first nine minutes put Sagan in trouble, but Consa were really just too good all match long as Kazuki Fukai, Anderson Lopes and Lucas Fernandes each scored en route to a dominant win that put Sapporo on six points from their first two matches.
Kashima Antlers are right there with Consadole atop Group A, and they did it in equally dominant fashion. Ayase Ueda scored a pair of goals in the first half and Ryotaro Araki added one of his own to put the match to bed early and send them well on their way to a 5-1 win of their own. With the loss Avispa Fukuoka stayed stuck on zero points from their two matches so far, bottom of the group with Sagan.
FC Tokyo find themselves atop Group B after their second win in as many matches. This time they dispatched Vissell Kobe thanks to an 11th-minute goal from Diego Oliveira and a 14th-minute tally courtesy of Hirotaka Mita. Those were enough for the home side, whose defense was strong yet again to put them in the driver’s seat of the group.
Early goals reigned supreme throughout Group B over the weekend. While FC Tokyo got a couple, Oita Trinita got just one - a pretty Shun Nagasawa half volley in the fifth minute. That proved to be the only goal in the contest, though, as Oita Trinita moved level on points in Group B with Vissel Kobe, while Tokushima Vortis stayed at the bottom in search of their first result.
Shonan Bellmare snagged a point in their cup opener, but it came in a 0-0 match. They knew they were going to need to score to make real headway in the group, though. For the first half against Yokohama FC this weekend, it looked like they might go scoreless again, but they were gifted a goal just after the break. A terrible goalkeeping error saw the ball handed to Ryo Nemoto with an open goal and he was happy to take it, scoring for the lone goal to put Shonan on top of Group C with four points.
Kashiwa Reysol and Urawa Reds looked destined for a scoreless draw, but not because of a lack of attacking play. It was the goalkeepers who had this one on the road to split points, as they continually stepped up to make good saves and stymie the opposition, but that finally broke 11 minutes from the final whistle when Cristiano got on the end of a corner kick and nodded the ball home for the winning goal. The three points put Reysol even on points with Urawa for second in Group C.
Yokohama F·Marinos have been red hot for a month now, so it was no surprise to see them run rampant over the weekend. Sanfrecce Hiroshima were the unfortunate opposition who got caught in the Marinos tornado and it started in the 28th minute with an Ado Onaiwu tally. But Marinos really turned it on in the second half with Onaiwu adding a second, Teruhito Nakagawa scoring a brace of his own and Tomoki Iwata getting one of his own en route to a 5-0 win. Marinos now sit clear atop Group D with six points.
Shimizu S-Pulse were tasked with going away to Vegalta Sendai in their Matchday 2 contest, and it proved to be difficult for them. They struggled to finish their chances, shooting wide often, while Vegalta was not short on chances of their own. But Yuito Suzuki decided to go win the match on his own in the 70th minute, picking the ball up in his own half and racing all the way into the Vegalta box before clinically finishing to deliver S-Pulse all three points. With the win, S-Pulse jumped to second in the group, ahead of one-point Sanfrecce, while Vegalta remain in search of their first points.