Football: Kagawa goal helps Cerezo secure 1st league win of season

Shinji Kagawa scored his first J-League top-flight goal since returning from Europe, the former Japan star helping Cerezo Osaka down 10-man Sagan Tosu 2-1 at home Sunday for their first win of the season.

The former Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United attacker, who turns 34 on Friday, volleyed in the 38th-minute opener for a dominant Cerezo at Yodoko Sakura Stadium, notching his first J1 goal since departing for the Bundesliga in the summer of 2010.

Cerezo gained possession deep in the opposition half when Seiya Maikuma blocked Tosu defender Wataru Harada's pass, enabling Mutsuki Kato to float in a cross while keeper Park Il Gyu was stranded away from his goal.

Kagawa made a slight slip as he met the ball but controlled his left-footed effort well to find the bottom corner.

"I think (the goal) was extremely big, and I'm happy it led to the win more than anything," said Kagawa, after making his first league start since returning to his first professional club.

"There were moments where we had good spacing. Our football can get much better if we try to care about that all the time."

Kato headed Cerezo's second off Hirotaka Tameda's cross from the left seven minutes into the second half before he and Kagawa both came off in the 69th minute.

Tosu got one back with four minutes left when Fuchi Honda rolled in a low effort off the far post following a tidy attack down the left, but the dismissal of Yoichi Naganuma for a second yellow took the wind out of their sails.

Kagawa, who wore Japan's No. 10 shirt at the 2014 and 2018 World Cups, won two German Bundesliga titles and one in the English Premier League before other European stints with Besiktas, Zaragoza, PAOK Thessaloniki and Sint-Truiden.

"We controlled the game both offensively and defensively for large spells," said Cerezo manager Akio Kogiku, whose team began the campaign with a draw and two defeats.

"We showed our strength from last year with the high press...and Shinji showed his wonderful shooting technique within that string of play."

Elsewhere, Nagoya Grampus won 3-0 away to Kashiwa Reysol to move up to second, level on nine points with leaders Vissel Kobe, with Danish forward Kasper Junker hitting the opener.

Reigning champions Yokohama F Marinos could have gone top with a win but instead lost 2-0 at Consadole Sapporo, who notched their first victory, while Kashima Antlers and Avispa Fukuoka played out a scoreless draw.

Diego Oliveria hit a brace as FC Tokyo beat promoted Yokohama FC 3-1 at home. Kyoto Sanga won 2-0 at Shonan Bellmare, while Sanfrecce Hiroshima prevailed 2-1 away to Gamba Osaka, earning their first win of the season thanks to a late Makoto Mitsuta penalty.

© Kyodo News