Kyoto Sanga F.C. escaped a tense clash with Roasso Kumamoto in the promotion-relegation play-off, securing a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes that meant the established J1 team got to keep their spot in the top tier.
Sanga scored first thanks to a gorgeous ball from Temma Matsuda, whose pass split the Roasso defense and put Yuta Toyokawa in on goal, with the forward calmly slotting the ball home to give Kyoto the lead.
Thanks to the rule that the J1 team would keep their place in the event of a draw, Sanga had a massive advantage at just 1-0 up and they played as such. They made sure they wouldn’t get caught out and defended astutely, knowing that Roasso would have to score twice to take their spot.
Roasso did get one goal back, thanks to a clever Osamu Henry Iyoha header off a corner kick, but it was not enough. The J2 team pushed for a goal late, even hitting the post in stoppage time, but the winner never came, ending just short of what would have been a historic promotion.
When the final whistle went, the scoreboard said that Sanga and Roasso were even, but that was enough for purple-clad Sanga and their fans to let out a cheer. They retained their spot in the top flight and will play for the highest crown in Japanese club football yet again come 2023.