SAITAMA – Former Queens Park Rangers striker Jay Bothroyd scored the winner as J. League first-division returnees Jubilo Iwata claimed their first win after two seasons in the second tier with a 2-1 away victory at Urawa Reds on Sunday.
Reds midfielder Yosuke Kashiwagi canceled out Yoshiaki Ota’s 30th-minute opener in front of a crowd of 43,826 at Saitama Stadium, but Bothroyd bundled in to snatch the winner for the visitors with eight minutes left.
“I’m delighted to score my first goal of the season against a top team,” Bothroyd said. “We frustrated the home team by defending very well, everyone worked hard. We played on the break, it was our game plan and it worked really well.
“I’m very happy, the fans here are tremendous and obviously our Jubilo fans are always very good. It’s a great atmosphere and Iwata are a top team, they have been throughout their history. We’re very happy to get the win today and hopefully we can continue.”
Reds, 2-1 winners at Kashiwa Reysol last weekend, wasted a chance to go ahead before the half hour as Zlatan Ljubijankic failed to capitalize on a communication breakdown in the Jubilo defense and his shot was easily gathered by goalkeeper Krzysztof Kaminski.
The home side then fell behind moments later with calamitous defending of its own, Ota blocking Tomoaki Makino’s pass and wrong-footing keeper Shusaku Nishikawa into an unguarded net with a left-foot strike from 18 meters out.
Urawa reacted quickly as Shinzo Koroki met a cross from six meters out but his effort was saved by keeper Kaminski, before strike partner Ljubijankic missed a volley from 10 meters out.
Nishikawa kept Urawa in the game with a double save in the 56th minute, blocking a close-range effort with his foot from Adailton after the Brazilian had skipped past a defender in the box and then from Kazuki Saito on the rebound before Reds drew level with 12 minutes to go.
Kashiwagi set off three direct passes and received the ball from Ljubijankic outside the box before sweeping home with his favored left foot. But the lead lasted only four minutes.
Bothroyd, who topped the J2 scoring chart last season with 20 goals, held off Makino to scramble in the winner at the far post after a low cross from Takuya Matsuura, who had just come on as a substitute a minute earlier.
Iwata rebounded from an opening 1-0 defeat to Nagoya Grampus and manager Hiroshi Nanami applauded his team for its tenacity.
“We’d have got beaten had we lost our patience and attacked carelessly. It wasn’t the type of football we aim to play through the season but the players did well,” Nanami said. “I said to them before the game we’re aiming for the three points and the substitutions reflected that.”
Elsewhere in the J. League, Gamba Osaka won their first game of the season away to Ventforet Kofu 1-0 thanks to a 36th-minute goal from Shun Nagasawa. FC Tokyo also won its first away to Vegalta Sendai after an own goal and Ryoichi Maeda’s effort turned the game around following Hirofumi Watabe’s opener for Vegalta.