Tomoki Iwata struck midway through the first half to cancel out Kyogo Furuhashi's quick-fire opener Saturday as Vissel Kobe and Oita Trinita shared the spoils 1-1 in the J-League first division.
With fans allowed into stadiums for the first time since the J-League top flight resumed its coronavirus-affected season earlier this month, the visitors took the lead barely 20 seconds into the clash at Oita's Showa Denko Dome.
Following a smothered attempt by Junya Tanaka, Furuhashi scorched the net with a left-footed strike from the edge of the box for his second goal of the season and first since the restart.
Tomohiro Katanosaka's men responded strongly and had the upper hand for most of the first half against a Kobe side featuring several youngsters while resting captain and key playmaker Andres Iniesta.
The hosts equalized in the 29th minute after quickly turning their pressing defense into a counterattack. Iwata calmly beat keeper Hiroki Iikura one on one after Kei Chinen played him into the area with a well-placed through ball.
Tatsuya Tanaka almost gave Oita the lead with a difficult attempt minutes later, volleying over the bar at full sprint off a long ball from Iwata.
Iwata had another chance in first-half injury time but shot wide of the post from the edge of the box.
The visitors fared better against the press in the second half but were unable to convert from a handful of opportunities.
Rookie forward Yutaro Oda had a chance for Kobe soon after manager Thorsten Fink tapped him as a late substitute, but the 18-year-old missed the mark as he rushed a close-range shot under pressure.
Despite opening his account for the season, Iwata lamented his missed chances along with his team's inability to carry their momentum into the second half.
"It was like a different game from the second half. It felt like we weren't able to play our own game," the 23-year-old defender said. "From the first half there were several chances, and the game came down to whether or not we could convert them."
In the night's other J1 match, Kawasaki Frontale earned their second big win in a row, beating Kashiwa Reysol 3-1 at Todoroki Stadium.
Veteran winger Akihiro Ienaga led the way for the 2017 and 2018 champions, scoring twice within a three-minute span late in the first half.
Toru Oniki's men thumped 2019 runners-up FC Tokyo 4-0 in their midweek Tamagawa Classico derby.