The final matchday of the Meiji Yasuda J1 League had to decide the champion, the final AFC Champions League place and two relegation places. How did it go? Let’s dive in.
Vissel Kobe 1, Yokohama F·Marinos 3
Marinos knew a win would earn them the title and they went into halftime tied 1-1 so it was all to play for in the final 45 minutes of the season. The Tricolor came out of the break with their hair on fire and captured the crown, riding goals from Takuma Nishimura and Teruhito Nakagawa to become J1 champions for the fifth time in club history.
F.C.Tokyo 2, Kawasaki Frontale 3
Frontale needed a win to have a chance of pipping Marinos for the title and they did their part, despite a 29th minute red card to Jung Sung-ryong. Yasuto Wakizaka scored first, only for Adaílton to answer. Marcinho put Frontale back in front, and Adaílton scored again, but a late own goal was enough to earn Frontale the win, even if it was not enough to win a third straight championship.
Sagan Tosu 2, Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2
The Viola only need a draw to clinch third place and the spot in the AFC Champions League that comes with it. They did just that, getting goals by Sho Sasaki and Makoto Mitsuta to jump out to a lead that Sagan would later erase, but still earn Sanfrecce the result they needed.
Kashima Antlers 0, Gamba Osaka 0
Kashima had all of the ball and all of the shots, battering Gamba, but the Nerazzurri held on for the point they needed to stay out of the drop zone and ensure another season in the top flight.
Cerezo Osaka 0, Nagoya Grampus 1
The Sakura had to win if they wanted a chance of leaping up to third place, but a 68th minute red card to Kim Jin-hyeon put them down to 10 men and Yuki Soma scored in stoppage time to lift Nagoya to victory.
Kashiwa Reysol 1, Shonan Bellmare 2
Shonan was not guaranteed to avoid the drop entering the day so they had massive stakes and they rose to the occasion as Shuto Machino and Yusuke Segawa each scored in a crucial victory that ensured they play in the first division next season.
Urawa Reds 1, Avispa Fukuoka 1
Avispa’s survival was in the air as the game kicked off, and a 56th minute goal by Takuya Iwanami put them a goal down, but the men from Fukuoka did enough to stay in J1 as Juanma scored on the hour mark to take the point that would give them more than enough buffer to stay out of the bottom three.
Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo 4, Shimizu S-Pulse 3
A win would’ve taken S-Pulse from an automatic relegation place to the play-off. After they scored two goals in three minutes to go from 1-0 down to 2-1 up, it looked like they might get that. Consadole equalized not long after, but Ronaldo put S-Pulse back in front 12 minutes from time and had them on the verge of a gigantic victory. Alas, it was not to be as Kim Kun-hee scored in the 86th minute and Ryota Aoki found the back of the net in stoppage time to deal S-Pulse a heartbreaking loss that relegated them to J2.
Júbilo Iwata 0, Kyoto Sanga 0
Júbilo had nothing to play for except pride after their relegation was guaranteed last week, but Sanga could move out of the bottom three with a win. Despite having the better of the chances, a goal never came and Sanga had to settle for a draw that kept them in 16th place and sent them to the promotion-relegation play-off against a still-to-be-determined J2 team.