YOKOHAMA – Brazilian defender Fabio struck a dramatic late equalizer moments after coming off the bench to rescue a point for Yokohama F. Marinos in a 1-1 draw at home to Kashima Antlers in the J. League on Friday.
Takuya Nozawa’s superbly taken goal looked to have earned Antlers all three points, but Fabio, who had just entered the fray for compatriot Marquinhos, smashed home in the fifth minute of injury time to give his side a share of the spoils.
“A goal was exactly what was required in that situation and that is what makes it so special,” said Fabio.
Yokohama has failed to win in their last three games now after starting the season with six victories in a row, and the result leaves it three points behind Omiya (23). Kashima has 16 points.
“We only managed a point today but played well,” said Yokohama manager Yasuhiro Higuchi, whose own team conceded in the dying embers of last week’s 1-1 draw with Ventforet Kofu. “We will just have to try and build on this point in our next game.”
Omiya continued its remarkable start to the season with a 2-0 win at promoted Oita Trinita, the only team yet to win in the top flight nine games into the campaign.
Slovenia striker Milivoje Novakovic grabbed his fourth goal of the season to put Omiya in front on 18 minutes, and Takuya Aoki sealed victory three minutes into the second half at Oita Bank Dome.
The win extended Ardija’s J. League record of consecutive unbeaten games to 20.
In front of a bumper bank holiday crowd 40,034 at Nissan Stadium, Yokohama had the first clear chance of a tightly contested first half as Kosuke Nakamichi headed Dutra’s cross against the outside of the post on nine minutes.
Davi’s shot on the turn at the other end lacked enough purchase to seriously trouble Marinos ‘keeper Tetsuya Enomoto. The Brazilian should have broken the deadlock seven minutes before the break, but somehow contrived to smash against the crossbar when it looked easier to score.
Kashima goalkeeper Hitoshi Sogahata made amends for a poor throw that landed straight at the feet of Dutra, swatting away an angled shot from Marquinhos on 64 minutes, before Davi again went close.
When the opener finally arrived in the 73rd minute, it was well worth the wait. Yuzo Kurihara failed to properly head clear Mitsuo Ogasawara’s free kick and the loose ball found its way to Nozawa, who unleashed a blistering strike into the roof of the net at the far post.
It was not to be for the visitors, though, as Fabio pounced on a weak clearance from Kazuya Yamamura and buried his shot into the left-hand corner of the net.
Kashima manager Toninho Cerezo said he was satisfied with the point, despite being denied victory at the death, but the Brazilian could not resist a dig at referee Hiroyuki Kimura.
“Obviously we would have liked to have taken three points and moved higher up the table, but when you look at how we defended it was an excellent point for us,” he said. “But with all respect to the ref you have to wonder where he got five minutes of added time from.”
Elsewhere, a double from Brazilian striker Hugo gave Kofu a 2-1 win at home to early-season strugglers Jubilo Iwata, while goals from Kengo Kawamata and Sho Naruoka earned Albirex Niigata a 2-1 victory at Shimizu S-Pulse.
Yoichiro Kakitani bagged a brace as Cerezo Osaka cruised past Shonan Bellmare 3-0 at BMW Stadium.
In Friday’s late games, a double from Kazuma Watanabe gave FC Tokyo a 3-2 win at Sagan Tosu, and Masaki Yamamoto’s 87th-minute goal saw Kawasaki Frontale edge Nagoya Grampus 2-1.
The ninth-round games between champions Sanfreece Hiroshima and Kashiwa Reysol, and Urawa Reds and Vegalta Sendai will take place on May 29 due the clubs’ involvement in the Asian Champions League.