Sanfrecce Hiroshima opened the J-League top-flight season with a 2-0 win over fellow title aspirants Urawa Reds on Friday thanks to a brace from new signing Yuki Ohashi.

The former Shonan Bellmare forward struck in the 45th and 55th minutes to help last season's third-place team make a bright start at new stadium Edion Peace Wing Hiroshima.

Playing in front of a boisterous opening-day crowd at the 28,520-seat venue, Michael Skibbe's men took control after weathering an aggressive start from an Urawa side beginning life under Norwegian manager Per-Mathias Hogmo.

The 27-year-old Ohashi gave the hosts the lead as the clock ticked into first-half stoppage time, lashing a shot off the bottom of the crossbar after Urawa keeper Shusaku Nishikawa could not keep hold of Takumu Kawamura's long-range effort.

Hiroshima missed a chance to double the lead early in the second half as Pieros Sotiriou sent his penalty wide after Urawa midfielder Yoshio Koizumi was booked for a clumsy challenge on Ohashi.

But the home side found the net on their next trip down the ground, with Ohashi rising high to head home from Sho Sasaki's swerving cross.

"I'm really happy to have scored two goals and contributed to the team winning," Ohashi said.

"Debuting for the club on this historic day at the new stadium, I wanted to live up to the efforts of everyone who helped build such a fantastic ground."


Sanfrecce Hiroshima players and fans celebrate their second goal in a 2-0 victory over Urawa Reds in the J-League first-division season opener at Edion Peace Wing Hiroshima on Feb. 23, 2024. (Kyodo)

Reds had the first chance of the second half with an attack that culminated in a shot straight at Hiroshima keeper Keisuke Osako from Sweden midfielder Samuel Gustafson, newly arrived from Hogmo's former Swedish club Hacken.

Osako was the busier of the two keepers early in the match, stopping Koizumi's shot in the sixth minute and preventing Takahiro Sekine from finishing off Yusuke Matsuo's cross midway through the half.

Substitute Ken Iwao nearly pulled one back for Urawa after the 90-minute mark, heading into the crossbar from a corner kick.

Hogmo said Urawa, who finished fourth in 2023, had created "good chances" but also made things more difficult for themselves with periods of disjointed play.

"We see we are playing against a really good team who has been playing together for a long time, and we need still more time to get to know each other as a team," the 64-year-old said.

In Friday's other match, Kashima Antlers earned a 3-0 win away to Nagoya Grampus following two goals from Hayato Nakama and one from new Serbian forward Aleksandar Cavric.

The remainder of the expanded 20-team J1 will kick off their season across the country on Saturday and Sunday.

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