Reigning champions Vissel Kobe began the new J-League season with a comfortable win Saturday as they saw off promoted Jubilo Iwata 2-0 away from home.

Koya Yuruki and Daiju Sasaki struck early in each half at Yamaha Stadium as Kobe put behind their lackluster outing a week earlier, when they lost 1-0 to Kawasaki Frontale in the Super Cup.

Vissel Kobe's Daiju Sasaki celebrates after scoring against Jubilo Iwata during the second half of a J-League match at Yamaha Stadium in Shizuoka Prefecture on Feb. 24, 2024. (Kyodo)

"It's difficult to win the opening game, but managing one away from home gives us momentum," said Yuruki, whose fifth-minute strike set the tone for a dominant display.

A headed clearance off a corner fell outside the box and Yuruki drilled a well-taken first-time volley into the bottom left corner, beyond a diving Eiji Kawashima, Iwata's new signing in goal.

The 40-year-old former Japan keeper, who played in three straight World Cups through 2018, made a fine save four minutes later to stop Sasaki's diving header, while last season's joint top scorer Yuya Osako flashed his header just wide in the 22nd minute as Kobe remained on the front foot.

Iwata center-back Ricardo Graca tested Kobe's goal with a swerving long-range effort on the half-hour mark before Ryo Germain's shot from distance clipped the bar five minutes later for the home side, who had Hiroto Uemura to thank for blocking Yuruki's goal-bound shot three minutes to the break.

But Kobe doubled the lead four minutes into the second half after Takahiro Ogihara won possession back inside his own half, enabling Osako to quickly thread the ball forward from the halfway line for Sasaki, who rolled his shot through the legs of Kawashima.

The 75th-minute introduction of dribbler Yosuke Furukawa injected some energy down the left for Iwata, but the home side failed to come up with a clear-cut chance as Kobe began the campaign with three points.

"We relied greatly on Osako and (Yoshinori) Muto a lot last season offensively, and I came into the season opener eager to emulate those two," Yuruki said. "It's nice to have scored a goal and I want a lot more."

Gamba Osaka's Takashi Usami (7) scores from a free-kick against Machida Zelvia during the second half of a J-League first-division match at Machida Gion Stadium in Machida, Tokyo, on Feb. 24, 2024. (Kyodo)

Emperor's Cup winners Kawasaki came from behind to win 2-1 at Shonan Bellmare after new Brazilian forward Erison rolled home the 56th-minute winner.

Former Japan attacker Takashi Usami's free-kick salvaged Gamba Osaka a 1-1 draw at J1 debutants Machida Zelvia, who finished the match with 10 men. Ryotaro Araki hit a brace to help FC Tokyo secure a 2-2 draw at Cerezo Osaka.

Albirex Niigata had a 2-1 comeback win at Sagan Tosu, while Avispa Fukuoka were held to a goalless draw at home by Consadole Sapporo.

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