JEF fight back to secure playoff spot


A dramatic injury-time strike from Akihiro Hyodo secured JEF United Chiba a place in the J. League promotion playoff semifinals on the final day of the J2 season Sunday after a 2-2 draw away to bottom club Gainare Tottori.

Beaten by Oita Trinita in last year’s playoff final, JEF looked dead and buried at 2-0 down after goals either side of the break from Genki Nagasato and Ryuji Hirota at Tottori Bank Bird Stadium.

With results elsewhere going against them, Jun Suzuki’s men briefly dropped out of the playoff zone but former Serie A striker Takayuki Morimoto came off the bench and pulled one back with a header with nine minutes left, before Hyodo lashed home from the edge of the box in the second minute of injury time to secure fifth spot.

In the semis, Chiba will play away to fourth-placed Tokushima Vortis, who won 1-0 at V-Varen Nagasaki. That result dropped Nagasaki to sixth spot and left it with a trip to third-placed Kyoto Sanga next Sunday. Kyoto lost 2-1 at home to Tochigi.