KAWASAKI — Former national team captain Tsuneyasu Miyamoto struck with a spectacular overhead kick to rescue a point for Vissel Kobe in a 2-2 draw with Kawasaki Frontale on Saturday.
Yoshito Okubo canceled out a 26th-minute long-range opener from Frontale captain Kengo Nakamura at Todoroki Stadium, only for Kosuke Kikuchi to restore the home side’s lead minutes before halftime.
But 32-year-old Miyamoto, playing in an unfamiliar midfield role, stunned the crowd as he leaped to control a cross on his chest midway through the second half, before launching into an acrobatic bicycle kick that flew past goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima and guaranteed a place on the goal-of-the-season shortlist.
“It was unbelievable for me,” Miyamoto said after the match. “At first I wanted to take a header, but it was too difficult so I changed my mind.
“First I want to see the video, but it was a special goal for me. I don’t know what to say. It was amazing.”
Vissel manager Masahiro Wada was also impressed with Miyamoto’s effort, but took more comfort in his side’s positive play after winning just one point from its previous four games.
“Kawasaki played in the Nabisco Cup during the week, and in the second half their legs started to go,” he said. “That’s when Tsune scored that fantastic goal. It was one of the most beautiful overhead kicks I’ve ever seen.
“We wanted to win but we have to be happy with the draw. We haven’t scored many goals from set pieces lately, so it was nice to get one from a corner. We played with three up front in the second half, and that gives us some options for the games to come.”
A 2-2 draw between runaway J. League leaders Kashima Antlers and Shimizu S-Pulse made the dropped points all the more frustrating for Frontale, and a shock 1-0 win for Oita Trinita over second-place Urawa Reds widened Kashima’s lead at the top to nine points. Defender Yuki Fukaya ended Oita’s run of 14 straight defeats with a goal in the 82nd minute at Kyushu Oil Dome.
Albirex Niigata was also unable to take the initiative after a 1-1 draw with Yokohama F. Marinos, but FC Tokyo continued its impressive form with a 3-0 win over Omiya Ardija.
Elsewhere, Australian striker Josh Kennedy scored on his debut for slumping Nagoya Grampus, but it was not enough to prevent Kyoto Sanga from claiming a 1-1 draw at Toyota Stadium.
Nakamura lit up an uneventful opening 25 minutes at Todoroki when the ball rebounded into his path following an attack by teammate Chong Tese. With Vissel’s defense expecting Nakamura to thread it back to the North Korean, he simply let rip with a first-time shot that gave goalkeeper Tatsuya Enomoto no chance.
Frontale’s lead did not last long as Okubo crept in front of Kazuhiro Murakami to bundle in a corner 10 minutes later, but Kikuchi restored the home side’s lead via the same route as he rammed home a firm header with Vissel’s back line caught napping.
But the visitors continued to create chances of their own, and with Juninho spurning two opportunities to send Frontale home and dry, Miyamoto made his dramatic intervention. A late red card for Kikuchi for two bookable offenses rubbed salt in Kawasaki’s wounds, and manager Takashi Sekizuka conceded fatigue had played its part.
“We were at home so it’s really disappointing not to win,” he said. “We couldn’t play our style of football, and our legs stopped moving in the second half. We’ll just have to get back to training and get ourselves back on track.”