Chanathip Songkrasin makes winning J.League debut for Consadole
Thailand's Chanathip Songkrasin starred on his J.League debut on Saturday as Consadole Sapporo defeated 10-man Urawa Reds 2-0.
Three days after making his first appearance as a substitute in the Levain Cup defeat at Cerezo Osaka, the playmaker, who is on loan from Muang Thong United, played for just over an hour before being substituted with his side a goal up.
In an interesting twist of fate, it was former Muang Thong striker Jay Bothroyd who replaced Chanathip and went on to add the clinching second goal.
Consadole had distributed Thai flags to their fans before the match in order to give Chanathip a warm welcome. More than 30,000 fans attended the game at the Sapporo Dome, and he did not disappoint.
While he did not play for the full 90 minutes, the Thai international certainly made an impression during his time on the pitch, especially in an all-action start.
An early run ended with a deflected shot that went behind for a corner. Not generally known for the physical side of his game, he was then yellow-carded after just four minutes for cynically barging Yoshiaki Komai to the ground when Urawa were mounting a dangerous counter attack.
Thereafter, Chanathip put in a busy shift, seeing a lot of the ball in the final third. His best chance to score came when he received the ball in space just inside the penalty area, but Ryota Moriwaki deflected his effort wide.
His final contribution came when an excellent turn on the left of the penalty area allowed him to roll the ball into the path of Ken Tokura. But the scorer of Consadole's opening goal ballooned his shot over the bar from a good position.
By this point, Urawa were down to 10 men, having had Tomoaki Makino sent off for what appeared a deliberate kick in Tokura's face.
Japan's veteran midfielder Shinji Ono came on later in the game and set up Bothroyd's leveller. With this kind of quality in the squad, and performance on the pitch, Chanathip's new side surely have a decent chance of avoiding an immediate drop back to J2.
After impressive performances in his first two appearances in Japan, Chanathip has quickly dispelled any doubts about his ability to play at this level.
Bangkok-based Paul Murphy has lived in Asia for a decade, writing for ESPN FC since 2014. He is a former Daily Express sub-editor. @PaulMurphyBKK