Marcus Tulio Tanaka snatched an injury-time winner as Nagoya Grampus edged FC Tokyo 1-0 to move within a point of J-League leaders Shimizu S-Pulse on Sunday.
Just when the game looked destined to end in a stalemate, Tulio popped up at the back post and got above Japan teammate Yasuyuki Konno to head home from a neatly worked free kick routine in the 94th minute.
Shimizu beat Kashima Antlers 2-1 on Saturday to replace the champions at the top of the standings heading into the second half of the season. S-Pulse have 36 points from 17 games followed by Nagoya (35) and Kashima (34).
In Sunday’s other games, substitute Masatoshi Mihara opened his J-League account as Vissel Kobe edged Urawa Reds 1-0, despite having Hiroto Mogi dismissed at the end of the first half, while Cerezo Osaka and Kawasaki Frontale played out a goalless draw at Kincho Stadium.
Tokyo were in total control in the first half at Ajinomoto Stadium but were unable to make any inroads, the Gasmen’s best chance coming on 18 minutes when Sota Hirayama’s effort crashed back off the cross bar.
It was a different story after the interval, though, and league-leading scorer Josh Kennedy was only inches away from heading Grampus in front from Keiji Tamda’s 58th-minute free kick.
Tokyo had chances to win it in the closing stages but it was Nagoya that took the points with what was virtually the last play of the game.