• Kyodo

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Brazilian midfielder Diego scored a last-gasp penalty as Tokyo Verdy marked its return to the top flight with a battling 1-1 draw away to Kawasaki Frontale on Sunday.

Verdy looked destined to leave its old ground empty-handed after Yusuke Mori’s 33rd-minute strike had given Frontale the lead at Todoroki Stadium.

But Hiroki Ito brought down substitute Kazuki Hiramoto in the box deep into stoppage time and Diego swept the resultant penalty in off the woodwork to spark jubilant scenes on the Verdy bench.

“We were able to get into a position to win that penalty because of the fight my players showed today. Both teams showed a lot of heart,” said Verdy manager Tetsuji Hashiratani.

“We did not win, we drew but it’s still a good result. We will look into what went right and wrong today and try and keep moving in the right direction,” said Hashiratani, a former defender with the team when it was known as Verdy Kawasaki.

In Sunday’s other matches, Kashiwa Reysol beat 10-man Jubilo Iwata on opening weekend for the second year in a row, goals from Keisuke Ota and Popo securing a 2-0 home win, while Omiya Ardija downed visiting Albirex Niigata by the same score courtesy of first-half strikes from Pedro Junior and Daigo Kobayashi.

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