• Kyodo

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Midfielder Hidemasa Morita made a sparkling debut for Portuguese first-division club Santa Clara on Monday, scoring the winner in the 89th minute of a 2-1 victory over Rio Ave.

The 25-year-old, who transferred from J. League champion Kawasaki Frontale earlier this month, was among the best for his side after being picked to start in central midfield.

He broke the deadlock at Rio Ave’s Estadio dos Arcos after fellow countryman Ryotaro Meshino put the hosts on level terms at 1-1 with his third league goal of the season.

Santa Clara winger Carlos opened the scoring on a breakaway in the 23rd minute, but Meshino answered three minutes later, blasting home from the middle of the area after goalkeeper Marco Pereira deflected a shot from striker Gelson.

With mist limiting visibility, Morita controlled a pass from midfielder Costinha with his body before calmly beating Rio Ave keeper Pawel Kieszek from just inside the box.

Morita, who has three senior caps for Japan, joined Santa Clara on a three-and-a-half-year deal after helping Kawasaki capture the J. League and Emperor’s Cup double last season.

Santa Clara is currently eighth in the 18-team Primeira Liga, while Rio Ave sits at 10th.

In the Spanish top flight, midfielder Takefusa Kubo made a second straight start for Getafe, who lost 5-1 away to Athletic Bilbao.

The 19-year-old Real Madrid loanee, who departed Villarreal earlier this month, exited the match in the 69th minute with his side trailing 3-1.

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