The conclusion of the 2017 MEIJI YASUDA J2 League saw plenty of drama as the final two participants in the J1 Promotion Playoff were determined.
In the key match between fifth place Tokyo Verdy and sixth place Tokushima Vortis, goals by Tomohiro Taira and Daiki Watari saw the two sides heading to a 1-1 draw before Verdy’s Tatsuya Uchida scored a dramatic game-winner in the 88th minute.
Elsewhere, JEF United Chiba suffered an own goal in the first minute against Yokohama FC, but rebounded to equalise in the 30th minute through Yamato Machida and win in stoppage time when Naoya Kondo scored on a set play.
The results combined to see Verdy end the day in fifth place, while JEF snuck into sixth over Vortis to clinch the final playoff spot.
Meanwhile, Matsumoto Yamaga saw their own playoff hopes extinguished in a 1-0 loss to Kyoto Sanga at snowy Alwin Stadium as they ended the season in eighth.
Oita Trinita’s 2-1 win at Roasso Kumamoto was enough to push them into ninth place over Yokohama FC, who slide to 10th with their loss.
Nagoya Grampus clinched third place and the top playoff seed with a 2-1 win at Kamatamare Sanuki, while Avispa Fukuoka ended the campaign in fourth after a 1-1 draw at Fagiano Okayama.
Grampus, Avispa, Verdy, and JEF will look to join champions Shonan Bellmare and runners-up V-Varen Nagasaki in next year’s J1.
J1 Promotion Playoff Schedule
Sunday, November 26
Avispa Fukuoka vs. Tokyo Verdy (13:00 Egao Kenko Stadium)
Nagoya Grampus vs. JEF United Chiba (16:00, Paloma Mizuho Stadium)
Sunday, December 3 (16:00)
Winner of Semifinal 1 vs. Winner of Semifinal 2 (16:00, Venue TBA)