Nagoya Grampus have taken sole leadership of Group B in the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup, after seeing off Vegalta Sendai in a thrilling 3-2 win on Saturday.
Akira Nishino’s men had to do without Kengo Kawamata but still went three goals ahead in the first half hour thanks to Riki Matsuda, Asahi Yada and Yoshizumi Ogawa.
The Aichi outfit held off a tense Vegalta fightback, when the visitors scored twice in six minutes during the second period, to ensure their perfect record in the competition continued.
Despite being winless this season and bottom of the J.League, Vissel Kobe kicked off their Cup campaign with a 3-1 victory against Montedio Yamagata.
Kazuma Watanabe was the two-goal hero for the hosts after the visitors temporarily equalised, moving the league strugglers up to second.
Yokohama F.Marinos rounded off the Group B action with a routine 2-0 win over Shimizu S-Pulse, the latter’s strike force of Mitchell Duke and Peter Utaka unable to threaten despite the visitors enjoying the first half on top.
Meanwhile in Group A, an understrength FC Tokyo side in defence was forced to come back from a goal down to draw 1-1 at Matsumoto Yamaga.
The absence of key personnel was felt as Yamaga took the lead through an own goal following a long throw, although Keigo Higashi poked home in the second half to ensure Tokyo maintained top spot.
A tired-looking Sagan Tosu meanwhile failed to capitalise when they drew 0-0 with Shonan Bellmare, with the visitors’ goalkeeper Yota Akimoto standing particularly strong in the second period.
Earlier, Sanfrecce Hiroshima had struggled to contain Albirex Niigata as their hosts continued to have the best chances in a one-sided 0-0 draw.
Albirex threatened throughout through Brazilian starlet Rafael Silva and Leo Silva struck the woodwork, but Sanfrecce hung on just enough to nick a precious point in Niigata.