January 1, 2020 / 10:05 AM / 22 days ago

Soccer: Iniesta's Kobe win Emperors Cup in National Stadium opener

Soccer Football - Tokyo 2020 Olympics Test Event - Emperor's Cup Final - Vissel Kobe v Kashima Antlers - National Stadium, Tokyo, Japan - January 1, 2020. Vissel Kobe's Andres Iniesta and his teammates celebrate to win the Emperor's Cup final. REUTERS/Issei Kato

TOKYO (Reuters) - Vissel Kobe, led by World Cup winners Andres Iniesta and Lukas Podolski, beat Kashima Antlers 2-0 to win the Emperors Cup final on Wednesday, in the first soccer match to be played at Tokyo’s National Stadium, built for this year’s Olympic Games.

The first goal scored in the new stadium was an own goal from unfortunate Antlers defender Tomoya Inukai in the 18th minute before Kobe striker Noriaki Fujimoto added a second 20 minutes later following some more poor defending.

Wednesday’s win marks the first time in their history that Kobe have their hands on some silverware and vindicates the high wages forked out by owner Hiroshi Mikitani in recent years.

Wednesday’s match also saw a last appearance for former Barcelona and Atletico Madrid striker David Villa, who will retire at the age of 37.

Villa, who has been struggling for fitness, only came on for the last few minutes of the contest but was greeted by rapturous cheers from the Kobe fans after a successful season that saw him score 13 goals in 28 league matches.

Villa scored 59 times for Spain during an illustrious career that saw him win the World Cup and European Championship with his country and the 2011 Champions League with Barcelona.

(Refiles the story to correct the day of week to Wednesday)

Editing by Louise Heavens

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