The first week of the much-anticipated J1 League got off to a flying start this weekend as Japan’s top teams met each for the first match-ups of the season. And in what looks set to be a characteristically exciting season, we have already seen some indications of what this season has in store.

With that said, here’s an overview of how the first matches played out!

Shonan Bellmare vs Kashiwa Reysol: 0-2

Despite putting in a trojan effort and battling hard throughout, Shonan Bellmare eventually succumbed to the unrelenting attacks of Kashiwa Reysol.

Shonan Bellmare was initially hampered by a red card they received in the 34th minute of the first half, which proved to be all but a death sentence for their chances in this match-up. Shonan’s fate was sealed by two second-half goals scored by Matheus Sávio and Tomoya Koyamatus, which secured this first-stage victory for Kashiwa Reysol.

Nagoya Grampus vs Vissel Kobe: 2-0

Although it was their first match under the manager Kenta Hasegawa, Nagoya Grampus showed no signs of inexperience as they stormed their way to a 2-0 victory against Vissel Kobe.

Thanks to a stunning goal from Sho Inagaki and some misfortune on Vissel Kobe’s behalf, Nagoya Grampus came out on top. This misfortune materialized early on, when Vissel Kobe was reduced to 10 men. This misfortune was compounded when an own goal by Vissel Kobe sealed their fate.

Gamba Osaka vs Kashima Antlers: 1-3

In what proved to be an exciting match-up, the Kashima Antlers put in a lively performance against Gamba Osaka in their first clash of the season.

Of the many attempted shots on goal, the Kashima Antlers eventually won out and secured a triple of excellent scores. Ayase Ueda produced two of these three in sensational fashion. This was followed up by a stunning goal from Ryotara Araki.

These three scores proved too much of a handle for Gamba Osaka who only managed to respond with a solitary score.

Yokohama F. Marinos vs Cerezo Osaka: 2-2

Anderson Lopes shone brightly in his debut for Yokohama F. Marinos, although it was ultimately a 90th-minute equalizer by Hiroshi Kiyotake that saved the day. Although it didn’t secure them the victory they were hoping for, this last-minute equalizer capped off an impressive display by Yokohama F. Marinos.

Avispa Fukoka vs Júbilo Iwata: 1-1

After a tense battle against Avispa Fukuoka, an impressive equalizer scored in the 93rd minute stole the show as Ryo Germain slipped one past the keeper.

This is an important victory for the newly promoted Júbilo Iwata, who are celebrating their return to the J1 league. This earns them a much-needed point in the early stages of the championship.

Shimizu S-Pulse vs Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo: 1-1

Lucas Fernandes left the watching crowds in a state of shock when he scored a stunning goal against the S-Pulse last week. This was just one of many shots on goal during this first stage clash up, although only one of them brought about a change in the score line. By far and away the star of the show was Shuichi Gonda, who made a number of stunning saves throughout the game, including a tense penalty by the number 7.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima vs Sagan Tosu: 0-0

Adverse weather conditions didn’t stop either team playing at their most tenacious in this first stage match-up between Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Sagan Tosu.

Despite not producing a single goal over the course of the 90-minute match, both teams put in promising performances that signal big things to come from both in the later stages of the tournament.

Kyoto Sanga vs Urawa Reds: 1-0

Peter Utaka scored the solitary goal in this hard-fought clash between Kyoto Sanga and Urawa Reds. Despite the best efforts of both sides, neither teams could capitalize on the many opportunities they were presented with.

Kyoto Sanga eventually got the better of the Urawa Reds. However, this is not necessarily to say the Reds were undeserving of a victory. However, a number of sloppy finishes by both sides meant it stayed goalless for much of the playing time.

Kawasaki Frontale vs F.C. Tokyo: 1-0

The reigning J1 League Champions looked a dominant force in this first stage clash against F.C. Tokyo. And although the score line remained equal for the majority of the game, the defending champions definitely looked the dominant side. Thanks to a late-stage intervention by Leandro Damião, Kawasaki Frontale are off to a great start to their pursuit of fifth title in six seasons.