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Chinese Super League

Andres Iniesta shows Chinese Super League what it’s missing as former Barcelona star scores stunning goal for Vissel Kobe

World Cup winner teams up with Lukas Podolski to stroke home a trademark composed finish in J.League victory over Jubilo Iwata

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 August, 2018, 2:03pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 August, 2018, 2:03pm

Former Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta showed the Chinese Super League what it is missing when he scored his first goal for Vissel Kobe in the Japanese J.League on Saturday night.

The Ballon d’Or nominee had the ball on halfway in the 16th minute of the league game against Jubilo Iwata, shifting it inside to a teammate before embarking on a run into the opposition half.

One more pass and it was with former Germany international Lukas Podolksi, who picked out Iniesta’s run at the edge of the area.

Still with it all to do, the 2010 World Cup winner spun defender Hirofumi Watanabe and then waltzed past South Korea international goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu to stroke the ball into an empty net.

Iniesta’s goal opened the scoring in the match, which Kobe went on to win 2-1. The strike has been lauded on social media, with some even questioning whether he should have been allowed to leave the La Liga champions.

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The 34-year-old signed for the J.League side in May after calling time on his two decade career with Barcelona, where he won 34 trophies including three Uefa Champions League titles.

He had been strongly linked with Chinese Super League side Chongqing Dangdai Lifan ahead of signing for Vissel Kobe and this goal, his first in Japan after making his debut late last month, is a reminder of what could have been.

Chongqing chairman Jiang Lizhang apologised for failing to sign the Spaniard after a rather convoluted courtship that linked the entry of the Iniesta family wine business into China as part of the move.

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The CSL side also released a statement denying their interest in bringing Iniesta in as one of their foreign players before he opted to join the club of Rakuten owner and Barcelona sponsor Hiroshi Mikitani.

Vissel Kobe are fourth in the 18-team J.League after 21 games.