Iniesta ends disappointing Kobe debut on the losing side in Japan
The Spanish midfielder came on as a sub on 58 minutes, sending the stadium wild with expectation. He showed some glimpses of quality but looked out of form.
Andrés Iniesta was unable to get off to a winning start on his debut in Japan. His new club, Vissel Kobe, crashed to a 0-3 home defeat to Shonan Bellmare - losing a golden chance to consolidate their position among the leading pack at the top of the table and ending a run of three consecutive victories.
Early goal hurts Kobe
Keisuke Saka put the visitors ahead on 10 minutes with a wonderful header, which meant Kobe had to push forward to get back into the game; they did so enthusiastically - but couldn't find a way past Yota Akimoto in the Shonan goal. After letting several clear chances go astray, Kobe retired to the changing rooms at half-time trailing and after the break went further behind when Mutsuki Saito gained a yard on the home defence to leisurely slot in the visitors' second goal of the game.
Iniesta enters the pitch on the hour mark
Shunsuke Kikuchi finished off a rapid Shonan counter attack on 74 minutes, meeting Suzuki's cross at the back post to make it 0-3. Moments before, Iniesta had made his entrance coming on off the bench to a huge roar from the crowd on 58 minutes. Fans at the Misaki Park stadium chanted Iniesta's name and began waving Spanish flags when the player replaced Kazuma Watanabe.
Late chance for Iniesta flies just over
Every time Iniesta received the ball produced gasps from the home supporters but the midfielder looked slightly out of form even if he did leave one or two moments of quality in the dying moments of the match, with a couple of through balls and backheels. He was only on the pitch for the final half hour but managed one attempt on goal - a left-footed volley from a corner which whistled inches over the bar.