NIIGATA – Atomu Tanaka came off the bench to score a last-ditch equalizer as Albirex Niigata staged a stirring comeback to hold champions Urawa Reds to a 2-2 draw in the J. League first division on Sunday.
Urawa looked set to return to Saitama with three points in the bag after goals from in-form Yuichiro Nagai and Brazilian strike partner Washington had put the Reds in control in swirling snow at Tohoku Denryoku Big Swan Stadium.
But Kazuhisa Kawahara gave Niigata a glimmer of hope by heading home in the 89th minute and fellow substitute Tanaka sent his team’s orange-clad army of fans delirious when he swiveled to smash a superb volley past Ryota Tsuzuki to complete an improbable turnaround.
“Urawa dictated the pace for most of the game but my players picked up a point and I’m pleased because they showed great perseverance and refused to throw in the towel,” said Niigata manager Jun Suzuki.
Elsewhere, Gamba Osaka made it maximum points from two games with a 1-0 win over Kashima Antlers. Both sides were reduced to 10 men with less than half an hour played as Michihiro Yasuda and Fabao both saw red but Magno Alves struck the decider to hand Kashima its second defeat in a row.
At Home Stadium Kobe, Leandro headed a 62nd-minute equalizer to give Vissel Kobe its first point back in the top flight after a 1-1 draw against Kawasaki Frontale.