Brazilian forward Rodrigo Gral struck twice as J-League champions Jubilo Iwata beat Kyoto Purple Sanga 3-0 to win their second Japanese Super Cup on Saturday, emphatically ending a poor run of pre-season results.
Jubilo, who lost all three of their games in the East Asian Champions Cup last month, had to wait until the 63rd minute to end their 2003 goal drought on their return to Tokyo for the traditional J-League curtain raiser.
Midfielder Toshiya Fujita capitalised on a defensive slip to score with a low shot from 16 metres to the obvious relief of Jubilo manager Masaaki Yanagishita, who leapt from the bench pumping his fists in a rare show of emotion.
The goal clearly lifted Jubilo, who had failed to score in successive defeats by K-League title holders Seongnam Ilhwa, domestic rivals Kashima Antlers and Chinese champions Dalian Shide in the Champions Cup.
Fujita, currently being linked with a move to Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem, was involved again as Gral made it 2-0 in the 74th minute.
Showing excellent control in drizzly and near-freezing conditions, Fujita brought down a long ball from Takashi Fukunishi on his chest and got in an instant right-foot shot that Kyoto goalkeeper Naohito Hirai did well to block.
Unfortunately for Kyoto the ball fell into the path of Gral, who gleefully slid the ball into the empty net.
Gral, who had spent most of the match until then being flagged for offside, put the result beyond doubt three minutes from time with a close-range header after a Fujita corner was flicked on by the hard-working Fukunishi.
Kyoto were left ruing their bad luck after two near misses in the first half, when the Emperor's Cup holders looked far more likely to score than an Iwata side clearly still low on confidence.
Midfielder Shingo Suzuki saw an inswinging free-kick skid onto the foot of the post from the right of the penalty area in the 22nd minute.
But team mate Shinya Tomita came even closer just before the break when his volley from the edge of the box squirmed out of the hands of Jubilo goalkeeper Hiromasa Yamamoto, who scrambled back to stop the ball on the goal line.
For Jubilo, who won the Super Cup three years ago, victory had added significance after Kashima captured the inaugural Champions Cup last weekend.
"It is a relief to win. But I had faith in my players and particularly the forwards," said Yanagishita, whose problems have mounted since Japan striker Naohiro Takahara joined German Bundesliga club Hamburg SV in January.
"I knew they would want to prove a point and they played every bit as well as I expected in the second half today."
For their part, Kyoto missed the drive of South Korea midfielder Park Ji-sung, who joined World Cup coach Guus Hiddink at Dutch club PSV Eindhoven last December.
"Don't talk to me about Park," shrugged Kyoto manager Gert Engels. "He is a part of history. We have to move on and focus on the future. But we won't panic just because we lost today."