Both Nagoya Grampus and Montedio Yamagata got off to strong starts in Group B of the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup on Wednesday.
Grampus fought back to win 3-1 at Kawasaki Frontale despite going a goal down due to last season’s J.League top scorer Yoshito Okubu’s header.
Kensuke Nagai pulled the visitors level but the show belonged to team-mate Kengo Kawamata when he scored twice in the second half to wow the travelling support and Japan boss Vahid Halilhodzic, who was in the stands looking for candidates for his next national squad.
Meanwhile, Yamagata went in front against Shimizu S-Pulse thanks to Shun Ito, only for the visitors to equalise.
But the result was never in doubt as Yuki Nakashima put the hosts back in the lead before an own goal sealed a 3-1 win.
Vegalta Sendai’s unspectacular 1-0 win over Yokohama F.Marinos thanks to Wilson’s 26th minute strike helped Susumu Watanabe’s men finish level at the top of Group B.
In Group A, FC Tokyo beat Albirex Niigata 2-1 despite conceding in the 2nd minute, as Naohiro Ishikawa and Yohei Hayashi helped the capital club earn all three points.
Sagan Tosu needed Kim Min Hyeok’s last-gasp winner to down Matsumoto Yamaga 2-1 in a dramatic final 10 minutes of the game.
Last season’s MEIJI YASUDA J2 League champions Shonan Bellmare ensured their strong start to the season continued with a routine 1-0 victory over Ventforet Kofu.
The Nabisco Cup’s resumes in its second matchday on 28 March.