After just a year down in the second division, Júbilo Iwata are headed back to the Meiji Yasuda J1 League!
Júbilo entered the final day of the J2 season in third place, trailing Shimizu S-Pulse by a point for second and the automatic promotion place that came with it. They not only needed to win, they also needed help from S-Pulse to make the leap to the top flight and that’s exactly what happened.
Júbilo started slowly, falling behind Tochigi SC after just 24 minutes, but they continued to fight and got equal before halftime through Dudu. With S-Pulse set for a draw in their match, the door was open for Júbilo if they could win it in the second half. That’s when Masaya Matsumoto came to their rescue, finding the back of the net just after the hour mark to earn the victory and send Júbilo into the first division.
It was a difficult season for Júbilo, who started very slowly and didn’t get into the promotion play-off places until mid-May. They climbed into second place for the first time on Matchday 26 and maintained it for two months before slipping back down to third, which is where they remained until their final day heroics.
Júbilo have a long and proud history in J1, having played there from 1994 to 2013, a stretch that saw them win the league three times to go along with two J.League Cup crowns and an Emperor’s Cup triumph. In the decade since, they’ve spent five years in each of the top two divisions, but now they are headed back up and playing among Japan’s best again.
While the two automatic promotion places are set, with J2 champions FC Machida Zelvia and Júbilo on their way to the top flight, the third promotion place is still to be decided.
Tokyo Verdy finished in third place and will play sixth place JEF United Chiba in one promotion play-off semi-final. S-Pulse will take on Montedio Yamagata in the other semi-final, with the two winners meeting in the final for a spot in J1.