SAITAMA – Japan defender Tomoaki Makino scored twice as Urawa Reds stopped the rot by coming from two goals down to beat FC Tokyo 3-2 at home in a rescheduled J. League first-division game on Wednesday night.
Reds saw their fading first-stage title hopes end with a 4-2 defeat at Sanfrecce Hiroshima on Saturday and they looked to be on their way to a fourth straight loss after first-half goals from Muriqui and Kento Hashimoto at Saitama Stadium.
But Makino scored twice in the space of six minutes after the break before Tadanari Lee netted the winner 12 minutes from time.
“We fired each other up at halftime knowing that if we scored two goals we could turn the game around,” said Makino. “We kept at it until the end and it is thanks to the support of the fans coming out on a midweek night.
“The team has been getting poor results recently and let the fans down so I just wanted to contribute by running my socks off and attacking.”
Brazilian striker Muriqui opened his J. League account on 13 minutes when he took a pass from Nathan Burns and steered past Shusaku Nishikawa.
There was then an element of good fortune to Tokyo’s second goal, which arrived on 31 minutes with Burns once again involved.
Yuki Abe made a strong challenge on the Australian striker but the loose ball hit Makino and fell kindly into the path of Hashimoto, who kept his head to slot home.
But Makino ignited the comeback with a towering header midway through the second period and then equalized with a powerful strike from just outside the box after being teed up by Shinzo Koroki.
Reds then took the lead for good when Abe’s blockbuster came back off the crossbar and rebounded off the surprised Lee’s chest and into the net.
“Our aim is to win the overall championship title. All sorts of things can happen but I want the fans to believe in us,” said Makino.
The game was rescheduled from May 21 due to both teams’ involvement in the Asian Champions League.