KENYA BROWN - Tuesday, December 4, 2018
Leo Osaki and Vissel Kobe finished the J. League season on a positive note with a win as the league seasons around Asia came to a close.
Vissel Kobe did enough at the end to hold off a resurgent Vegalta Sendai to earn a 3-2 win at the NOEVIR Stadium as the J1 League played their final games for the 2018 season.
Osaki was in the starting lineup for Kobe playing in central defense.
This is a season that Kobe will most certainly want to forget quickly. There were high expectations coming in as team owners Rakuten broke the bank by signing the likes of Lukas Podolski and Andres Iniesta, making them heavy favorites to contend for the J. League crown. However, they struggled for a majority of the season and it looked even relegation was in the cards.
However, Kobe was able to string together a couple of wins to remain in the middle of the standings in what will certainly be deemed as a very disappointing season.
In this final game, Kobe would start strongest of the two teams as they opened the scoring after the half-hour mark. Yuta Goke headed the ball into the path of teammate Kyogo Furuhashi and he would not miss the target from close range with his diving header.
The host maintained their momentum in the second half, with Iniesta scoring a dazzling goal in the 54th minute after a one-two pass play with Furuhashi.
Goke extended Kobe's lead ten minutes later as he steered the ball into the goal after a pass from Hirotaka Mita.
However, Sendai would pull one back in the 73rd minute when Ramon Lopes took a pass from Ryo Germain to unleash his strike past Kobe goalkeeper Daiya Maekawa.
The visitors then made the game more interesting in stoppage time as Germain found the back of the net.
But it was too little too late as Kobe escaped with all three points in the end.
Kobe wrapped up the season in 10th place in the standings with 45 points.
Mix Diskerud was given a break over the weekend as Ulsan Hyundai wrapped up the K League season with a 3-1 win over the Pohang Steelers. Ulsan finishes the season in third place in the standings with 63 points. This ensures them a spot in the AFC Champions League qualifiers next year.