EUSOC

Former Spain playmaker Iniesta makes debut in Japan

Vissel Kobe's Andres Iniesta tries to score a goal against Shonan Bellmare in the second half of their J-League soccer league match in Kobe, western Japan, Sunday, July 22, 2018. Iniesta made his J-League debut on Sunday.(Takumi Sato/Kyodo News via AP)

KOBE, Japan (AP) Andres Iniesta made his debut in Japan on Sunday for Vissel Kobe but his new team went down 3-0 at home to Shonan Bellmare.

Keisuke Saka and Mitsuki Saito scored to give the visitors a 2-0 lead before Iniesta came on as a 59th-minute substitute. But Shunsuke Kikuchi added another in the 67th to put the result beyond doubt.

The 34-year-old Iniesta had his first touch in the 62nd minute, as he received a pass inside his own area before dribbling to halfway and passing to Takuya Yasui on the wing.

Iniesta created a chance when he sent a through ball that found Wellington inside the box in the 89th minute but the Brazilian's shot was deflected out for a corner.

Iniesta, who trained with his teammates for the first time Friday, is expected to make his first J-League start when Vissel play Kashiwa Reysol at home on Saturday.

Iniesta scored the winning goal for Spain in the 2010 World Cup final. He also was a key part of Spain's two European Championships in 2008 and 2012.

Elsewhere, Iniesta's compatriot Fernando Torres made his debut for Sagan Tosu, coming off the bench early in the second half of a 1-0 loss to Vegalta Sendai.

The former Liverpool, Chelsea, and Atletico Madrid forward looked right at home with two scoring chances in the second half.

Torres scored 38 goals in his 110 caps for Spain and was in the winning squad for the 2010 World Cup.

In other matches, second place FC Tokyo thrashed Yokohama F Marinos 5-2 while third place Kawasaki Frontale edged V-Varen Nagasaki 1-0.

Kashima Antlers moved into 10th place with a 6-2 win over Kashiwa Reysol.

Gamba Osaka lost 2-1 to Shimizu S-Pulse, while Cerezo Osaka was held to a 1-1 draw by Urawa Reds.

League leaders Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Nagoya Grampus ended in a goalless draw, while Consadole Sapporo and Jubilo Iwata also finished scoreless.

Updated July 22, 2018

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