J1 new boys Sanga, Júbilo kick off top-flight campaigns in style

J1 new boys Sanga, Júbilo kick off top-flight campaigns in style

Kyoto Sanga and Júbilo Iwata both made much anticipated returns to the Meiji Yasuda J1 League on Saturday and neither disappointed.

Sanga were fired to an opening match win by the ageless Peter Utaka, while Júbilo put in a good shift to take home a point as both newly promoted sides walked away happy with the weekend.

Sanga welcomed Urawa Reds to the beautiful SANGA STADIUM by KYOCERA for the first top flight match at the venue and acquitted themselves wonderfully. At no point did they look overwhelmed, despite playing a very good Urawa side. They defended well and found gaps to exploit going forward. That paid off just after halftime when Sota Kawasaki made a great run down the right before delivering a ball right to the 38-year-old Utaka, who finished clinically to deliver the men in purple a well-deserved three points.

Júbilo left things to the last minute, conceding a 61st minute goal in Fukuoka. Challenged by a good Avispa side that finished eighth last season and playing away, it was always going to be tough for Júbilo, but they kept their shape, played confidently and it paid off in stoppage time when Ryo Germain did a terrific job to bring down a ball at the top of the box, turn and slot it just inside the post for a 93rd minute equalizer.

Any club’s return to the top flight is always exciting and that first J1 match of the season after a spell in the lower divisions will never be forgotten, but Sanga and Júbilo gave their fans more than just J1 returns on Saturday. They gave them results and some spectacular play in a day to remember.