Sendai beats Kashima 1-0 on J-League's opening day

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SENDAI, Japan (AP) -- Defender Taikai Uemoto scored in the second half on Saturday to lead Vegalta Sendai to a 1-0 win over Kashima Antlers on the opening day of the 2012 J-League season.

Uemoto's header in the 62nd minute gave the hosts an emotional victory on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Vegalta's home stadium sustained serious damage from the earthquake. The team was forced to train away from home before the 2011 season and its first home game was delayed for more than a month.

Elsewhere, Nagoya Grampus beat Shimizu S-Pulse 1-0, Vissel Kobe defeated Gamba Osaka 3-2 and Sanfrecce Hiroshima edged Urawa Reds 1-0.