YOKOHAMA – Kawasaki Frontale produced an inspired second-half performance to claw back a two-goal deficit and claim a 2-2 draw with Yokohama F. Marinos in a frantic Kanagawa derby on Saturday night.
Marinos went into the game at Nissan Stadium having risen to fifth in the table and looking to tie a club record of 15 games unbeaten, and the omens looked good after two goals from Brazilian striker Marquinhos staked the three-time J.League champions into a comfortable halftime lead.
But Yusuke Tanaka changed the complexion of the match when he pulled a goal back for Frontale in the 62nd minute, before the same player gave the visitors their reward for an exceptional second-half display when he lashed home an equalizer with five minutes left to play.
“In the first half we felt comfortable on the ball, but our opponents figured us out and put us under pressure,” said Frontale manager Yahiro Kazama. “But after the break we were able to play our football and we got the result in the end.
“I knew we could bring players off the bench who would make an impact for us. Football is a game played by more than just 11 players.”
Sanfrecce Hiroshima extended their lead at the top of the table to four points with a 2-0 win over Albirex Niigata, as Vegalta Sendai and Kashiwa Reysol drew 0-0 in a match between second- and third-place teams. Urawa Reds leapfrogged Reysol with a 2-1 win over Kashima Antlers, leaving Marinos manager Yasuhiro Higuchi frustrated at the knowledge that victory would have allowed his side to do the same.
“We started the game very well and managed to score, and that allowed us to settle,” said Higuchi. “So for us not to go on to win the match is very disappointing. We definitely had our chances to score a third goal.
“The fans really made it feel like a derby tonight, and we really wanted to win because of that.”
Frontale only had themselves to blame for the opening goal, with careless passing in defense allowing Masashi Oguro to intercept the ball on the left and cross for Marquinhos to head past goalkeeper Yohei Nishibe in the 11th minute.
Marinos had to work harder for their second of the evening, but the outcome was just the same. Shunsuke Nakamura surged through a gap in the Frontale defense down the left flank, and Marquinhos was again on hand to meet the cross with a looping header to the far post.
Kawasaki’s Ryota Oshima responded by twice going close before halftime, but Marquinhos suggested he had more to come when he hit the side-netting minutes after the restart with a vicious shot from distance.
The visitors grew in confidence as the second half progressed, however, and Tanaka made it count when he rose unchallenged to head home a Kengo Nakamura corner shortly after the hour-mark.
Marquinhos thundered a header against the underside of the crossbar as Yokohama looked to restore its two-goal cushion, but the game was thrown into controversy in the 78th minute when Frontale had a goal disallowed after a brilliant slaloming run from Koya Kazama.
There would be no denying Tanaka seven minutes later, however, as the 26-year-old picked up the ball and strode through midfield before cracking a shot into the bottom corner for the equalizer.
“I saw the chance and went for it,” said Tanaka, who joined Frontale from Marinos in 2011. “Marinos have a lot of good players in attack, and we have a very young side. We have to keep working.”
Elsewhere in the J.League, struggling Gamba Osaka pulled off the shock result of the night with a 5-0 hammering of Nagoya Grampus, while Jubilo Iwata came through a roller-coaster encounter to beat Cerezo Osaka 4-3.
Omiya Ardija struck late to claim a 1-0 win over FC Tokyo, Shimizu S-Pulse beat Sagan Tosu 1-0, and Vissel Kobe beat Consadole Sapporo 4-2 in the day’s afternoon kickoff.