Soccer: Cerezo prevail in Osaka Derby as J-League 1st division returns

©Kyodo News

Cerezo Osaka outlasted local rivals Gamba Osaka 2-1 on Saturday as the J-League first division returned following a four-month break prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Hiroaki Okuno and Yusuke Maruhashi found the net for the visitors at an empty Panasonic Stadium Suita to claim Osaka Derby bragging rights and spoil a milestone day for veteran Gamba midfielder Yasuhito Endo.

The 40-year-old, playing in his 23rd season, set an all-time record for J1 games at 632, moving out of a tie with former Yokohama Flugels and Nagoya Grampus goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki.

Gamba had the better chances in the opening half, but they were unable to score until Ademilson struck from the penalty spot late in the second half with the hosts trailing 2-0.

Cerezo had taken the lead in first-half additional time when Okuno latched onto a cross from the left by Maruhashi and stroked a first-time shot past Gamba keeper Masaaki Higashiguchi from the middle of the area.

Maruhashi doubled the advantage in the 62nd minute, blasting a long-range strike into the back of the net after Hiroshi Kiyotake set him up with a short pass from the edge of the box.

"I got a nice ball from (Kiyotake) and was able to make good contact on it," Maruhashi said.

"It was good to get a win on the road in tough conditions. It was a long break, but thankfully we prepared well for this game."

Ademilson had an early chance for Gamba, meeting a cross from Hiroki Fujiharu in the air but sending his header straight down the throat of Cerezo keeper Kim Jin Hyeon.

Former Japan forward Takashi Usami was inches away from giving Gamba the lead in the 21st minute when he rattled the post with a deflected strike.

In other J1 games, Japan forward Musashi Suzuki hit the ground running, netting a brace as Consadole Sapporo beat Yokohama FC 2-1 at Nippatsu Mitsuzawa Stadium.

At IAI Stadium, Yuki Soma was on target as Nagoya Grampus came away with a 2-1 win over Shimizu S-Pulse.

All J-League games are currently being played behind closed doors as a safety measure to stop the spread of the pneumonia-causing coronavirus. The league plans to begin gradually readmitting fans to stadiums from July 10.