KUALA LUMPUR: Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) got their AFC Champions League (ACL) campaign off to a losing start after freezing on a cold night to go down 5-1 to Japan’s Vissel Kobe in Kobe today.
The Malaysian champions stood in awe as the imperious Andres Iniesta, making his ACL debut, pulled the strings to inspire Vissel to victory.
Although Keijiro Ogawa bagged a hat-trick, it was the 35-year-old Spaniard who stole the show with a sublime performance.
Ogawa put Vissel ahead in the 13th minute, but JDT equalised 13 minutes later when they were awarded a penalty after Thomas Vermaelen handled Diogo Luis Santo’s attempted pass. Safawi Rasid slotting in the ensuing spot kick.
But their joy lasted only 90 seconds as Vissel put themselves back ahead quickly when Kyogo Furahashi benefited from a S. Kunanlan slip to slam the ball past a hapless Farizal to make it 2-1.
The second half was all one-way traffic as Vissel added three more goals through Ogawa (58th, 72nd), Douglas (60th).
The 5-1 rout is, by far, the biggest defeat JDT have suffered in the group stage of the competition.