KOBE, Japan (AP) –German striker Lukas Podolski scored twice in his J-League debut on Saturday as Vissel Kobe beat Omiya Ardija 3-1.
Podolski gave Kobe a 1-0 lead four minutes after the break with a left-foot shot from 23 meters. Marcelo Toscano equalized on the hour mark but Podolski gave the hosts the lead for good two minutes later with a header.
Podolski moved from Turkish giant Galatasaray after signing a deal with Kobe estimated to be worth $5.3 million. He is the highest-profile J-League import since Uruguay striker Diego Forlan, who played for Cerezo Osaka from 2014-15.
Hideo Tanaka scored with a long-range effort to complete the win for Kobe with 12 minutes left. Ninth-place Kobe improved to 29 points – 12 behind leaders Cerezo Osaka, who were beaten 3-1 by crosstown rivals Gamba Osaka.
Elsewhere, Ken Tokura and Jay Bothroyd scored to give Consadole Sapporo a 2-0 win over nine-man Urawa Reds. Tokura opened the scoring with a first-half header and Bothroyd sealed victory two minutes from time, heading home a Shinji Ono cross.