2015/7/11 Shimizu S-Pulse 0-5 Vissel Kobe

Vissel Kobe ended the first day of the 2nd Stage atop J1 after a convincing five goal away victory over 1st Stage cellar dwellers Shimizu S-Pulse. With goals coming from all over the field, it was a total victory that can only bring confidence for the coming stage.

Leandro - rejoining Vissel from Kashiwa Reysol - and, of course, teaming up again with manager Nelsinho, was thrown straight into the starting line-up and repaid that faith with hard work, creation of chances, and an easy finish to get on the score-sheet himself.

An interesting team selection from Nelsinho - with most of the squad available to him after a 1st Stage beset by injuries - saw nominal defensive midfielder Masatoshi Mihara return to the line-up, although just behind the strikers, while Ryota Morioka seems to have settled into his defensive midfield role, while previously accepted as an attacking player. Marquinhos was selected as a supporting striker/attacking midfielder to Leandro, the lone forward - technically - in a 3-2-2-2-1 formation.

The opening goal came from Morioka, in the 7th minute, who poked home a loose ball after Leandro had controlled a Takahito Soma cross, then created space from nowhere for an excellent shot that the keeper couldn't hold.

Shunki Takahashi was next on the mark, volleying home another excellent far post cross from Soma in the 19th minute, with Leandro getting his goal four minutes before the break, after having a 22nd minute effort blocked by the desperate home defence. The returning Brazilian's goal was simplicity itself, as a pinpoint pass from Jung Woo Young found Shunki Takahashi on the right wing. He sprinted to beat Mitchell Duke - no slouch in the speed stakes himself - to the ball and crossed it first time where the unmarked Leandro poked it home from close range.

In the 55th minute it was Soma yet again racing forward to send in a low, early cross for Marquinhos to stab home from close range. 4-0, and Vissel were cruising.

The final goal was, perhaps, the best of the day, and a personal victory for Shohei Takahashi. The central defender won the ball, found Leandro and sprinted off behind the Brazilian forward. Leandro sent the ball long and wide to Marquinhos in the right channel and the Vissel number 18 timed his run to perfection, reaching the ball for a first time cross to Takahashi for the defender to head home the final goal of the game after completing his 70 yard dash.

And so, Vissel end the day on top of J1 and looking forward to a successful 2nd Stage. A win against Shonan Bellmare on Wednesday night is next on the cards!

Team - Yamamoto, Iwanami, Masukawa, Sho.Takahashi, Morioka, Jung, Shu.Takahashi, Soma, Marquinhos, Mihara, Leandro

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