SENDAI (Kyodo) Takuya Matsuura snatched a crucial away goal to earn Jubilo Iwata a 1-1 draw away to second-division Vegalta Sendai in the first leg of the J. League promotion-relegation playoff on Wednesday.
Sendai took the lead courtesy of a fine finish from Brazilian striker Nadson shortly before halftime but Matsuura equalized with an equally impressive strike to give three-time J. League champion Iwata a slight edge going into Saturday’s second leg at Yamaha Stadium.
Sendai looked the hungrier of the two sides in the first period at Yurtec Stadium, and Yuki Nakashima fired just wide of Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi’s left-hand post before the home side deservedly went in front three minutes before the break.
Ryu Okada failed to cut out Ryang Yong Gi’s pass and Nadson raced through to beat Kawaguchi with an angled drive.
Ryang headed straight at Kawaguchi as Sendai continued to press after the break but Jubilo leveled when Gilsinho teed up Matsuura to rifle past Takuto Hayashi from the edge of the box on 54 minutes.