2018/3/7 Vissel Kobe 2-2 V-Varen Nagasaki [YBC Levain Cup]

Vissel Kobe 2-2 V-Varen Nagasaki [YBC Levain Cup]

Vissel Kobe 2-2 V-Varen Nagasaki [YBC Levain Cup]

A "second string" Vissel Kobe came back from 2-0 down to earn a draw on two goals from captain Lukas Podolski - both with that patented left foot of his! The German World Cup winner, along with Mike Havenaar, was a lone ly represetative of what seems to be manager Takayuki Yoshida's preferred J.League line-up, and the kids and "reserves" did well. In particular we saw goalkeeper Daiya Maekawa, debutant 18-year-old Yuta Goke and Thai international Theerathon get starts in this Levain Cup opener.

It was not a good start for Maekawa in goal, however, as he was caught in no-man's land on a 3rd minute free kick, leaving Choi Kyu-baek fee to nod into an empty net at the back post to give the visitors the lead. Vissel were almost level when a Naoyuki Fujita free kick curled onto the bar with the goalkeeper a spectator, and then Goke found space but hit his shot straight at the goalkeeper from point blank range. After all this pressure it was V-Varen who added a goal just before the break to go in to half time 2-0 up as Takumi Nagura scored a proverbial goal from nowhere on an away team break. His volley from the edge of the box, though, showed great technique!

Wellington replaced Havenaar for the start of the second period and Vissel continued where they left off, looking for goals. And those goals came from the left foot of Podolski - two screaming finishes by the German legend, one a free kick (in the 51st minute) and one from open play that was even better just after the hour mark. Former Vissel 'keeper Kenta Tokushige was left clutching at air for both as they hit his top left corner! Some fine advantage play from the referee, too, on the second strike after Wellington appeared to be floored by an elbow in the face. No card followed, surprisingly, as the referee considered the goal a just punishment, perhaps!

Podolski looked on for this hat trick as the game headed to its conclusion, with another long range left foot blast hitting a defender in front of goal. 2-2, first group match of the 2018 Levain Cup.

Team - Maekawa, Takahashi, Kitamoto, Nasu, Theerathon, Fujita, Mihara, Masyama (K.Watanabe), Podolski, Goke (Otsuki, 83), Havenaar (Wellington, 46)

Goals: Podolski 2 (51', 62')

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