AFC Champions League: Japan’s Vissel Kobe off to a flying start with a 2-1 win over Kitchee SC
Japanese side Vissel Kobe secured their first win of the AFC Champions League after beating Hong Kong’s Kitchee SC 2-1 at Buriram City Stadium in Thailand.
Vissel, sitting bottom of the J-League first division this season after going without a win in 10 games, opened the score at 14 minutes thanks to midfielder Yuta Goke.
The early goal did little to dampen the spirits of Hong Kong Premier League champions, who remained composed and threatened several times. But a clinical and disciplined Kobe did enough to keep their opponents at bay.
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Kitchee had their first chance to score on the half-hour when Dejan Damjanovic slid in a delightful low cross from the right side of the penalty box where teammate Matt Orr was just inches away from connecting with the back post.
Vissel, however remained composed and went on to double their lead when Shion Inoue struck with five minutes remaining ” all but sealing the win for the Japanese side.
Despite a late flurry from Kitchee that saw Alex Akande find the net in extra time, it was not enough. The win sees Vissel join Kitchee on top of the three-team Group J on three points, with Thailand’s Chiangrai United yet to pick up a point. Shanghai Port FC of China pulled out of the competition due to the coronavirus lockdown in their home city.
Elsewhere Hong Kong’s Lee Man came back from an early goal deficit to beat Athletic 220 of Mongolia 2-1 in the AFC Cup 2022 Playoff on Tuesday, confirming their place in the Group Stage.
Athletic 220 had a strong start with a seventh minute lead, only for the visitors to equalise just six minutes later, before Tsui Wang Kit slotted home the winning goal in the second half to seal their return to the Continental tournament.
Lee Man will join fellow Hong Kong side Eastern Long Lions, Macau champions MUST CPK and Chinese Taipei Premier League winners Tainan City FC in Group J, which is expected to kick off on June 24.
The two sides had been expected to play in Hong Kong on April 19, with the winners progressing to the group stages of the competition. But with the government shutting down all sport in the city since January, the Asian Football Confederation moved the match to MFF Football Centre in Mongolia.
Meanwhile China has been replaced by Japan as hosts of the East Asian Football Championships in July due to Covid-19 issues.
China had been due to host the East Asian Football Federation’s flagship competition for the third time since 2008, but withdrew due to the “recent situations of Covid-19 pandemic” across the country.
Japan will now host the event, which features tournaments for both men’s and women’s teams, from July 19 to 27. The Chinese men’s and women’s sides will still take part in the competition.
The move comes after Chinese Super League side Shanghai Port withdrew from the Asian Champions League earlier this month due to the tightening of restrictions on movement in and out of the city.
This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia. For more SCMP stories, please download our mobile app, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.
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