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Maezono made a triumphant return

By Jeremy Walker
Tokyo (March 12)

Fallen hero Masakiyo Maezono made a triumphant return to Japanese soccer on Sunday as his new club Shonan Bellmare beat Vegalta Sendai 4-1 in a second division game on Sunday.
The 26-year-old midfielder, who captained Japan's team at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, was named man of the match after an inspired display.
Although Maezono did not get on the scoresheet, he teased and tormented the visiting defence with his skill on the ball and sharp passing.
Kazuhiko Tanabe broke the deadlock after 20 minutes with a long-range right-foot shot which found the bottom corner of the net, and Yasunori Takada and Paraguayan defender Daniel Sanabria made it 3-0 for Bellmare, before Suguru Ito pulled one back for the visitors before half-time.
Eight minutes into the second half, however, Sendai defender Ricardo received his second yellow card and was dismissed, leaving his team with 10 men and a mountain to climb.
Maezono flourished in the extra space and set up a fourth goal for Yoshika Matsubara after 76 minutes to complete the 4-1 victory.
After receiving an award for being named man of the match, Maezono said: "I'm happy to start the new season with a win, but disappointed I could not score a goal for the fans.
"It was our first game in the second division and there's a long way to go, but hopefully this result can give us confidence for the rest of the season."
Four years ago, Maezono was the toast of Japanese soccer as he captained the Olympic team to a place in Atlanta.
His career went off the rails after the Olympics, however, and he lost his place in the national team and club team Verdy Kawasaki, before leaving Japan for Brazil in October 1998.
Spells with Santos and Goias did not work out, and neither did proposed moves to Portugal and Greece, so Maezono headed back to Japan and was traded to Bellmare by Verdy Kawasaki for the new season.
Elsewhere in Japan's second division on the opening weekend of the new season, relegated Urawa Reds beat league newcomers Mito Hollyhock 2-0 with goals from midfielder Toshiyuki Abe and Uruguayan defender Fernando Picun in front of a full house of 18,422 at Komaba Stadium.
Oita Trinita, who just missed out on promotion last season by finishing third, opened with a 3-1 victory at home to Montedio Yamagata, with two goals for Brazilian forward Valdney.
Compatriot Emerson went one better, netting a hat trick for Consadole Sapporo in a 4-0 victory away to Sagan Tosu, and Omiya Ardija beat Albirex Niigata 2-1 at home.