Unfashionable JEF United Ichihara kicked off its second-stage campaign with a 1-0 win away at Vissel Kobe in the J. League first division on Sunday.
A cagey affair at Kobe Wing Stadium appeared to be heading for a stalemate until second-half substitute Takenori Hayashi popped up to lash home the winner two minutes from time to give Ichihara all three points.
Ichihara led the first-stage standings until the penultimate week of the first stage but had to settle for third place behind winner Yokohama F. Marinos and Jubilo Iwata after losing its last two games.
In Sunday’s other match, Gamba Osaka won by the same scoreline at home to struggling Oita Trinita courtesy of a 17th-minute winner from Takahiro Futagawa.
Saturday’s games produced a shock defeat for defending champion Jubilo Iwata and a home draw for Yokohama F. Marinos.
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