KASHIMA, IBARAKI PREF. - An injury-time Yoshito Okubo penalty allowed Jubilo Iwata to salvage a late 1-1 draw away to Kashima Antlers in the J. League on Friday.
The 94th-minute Jubilo goal came after Antlers substitute Koki Anzai had a moment of madness, reaching a hand out to a ball headed toward goal by his teammate at Kashima Soccer Stadium.
The referee had no option but to point to the spot, allowing Okubo to cancel out a 71st-minute Kashima goal and salvage a point.
“It turned into a really tough game, but at the end, our tenacity made the difference, and for Jubilo, that’s what we’re good at,” said Japan national team stalwart Okubo. “So it was good that in that context (that) we could score.
“In our meetings, we talked about how important this rivalry is. So I’m really happy to have had a hand in this win.”
Kashima’s goal was at first credited to Daigo Nishi, who got the slightest of touches on a corner swung in by Ryota Nagaki, sending the ball ricocheting off a six-yard box wrestling match between Iwata’s Kentaro Oi and the Antlers’ Tomoya Inukai and into the back of the net. Inukai was later credited with the score.
Okubo went for power over positioning in his penalty, blasting the ball down the center as Kashima ‘keeper Kwoun Sun-tae dived to his left.
“The wind was blowing and really moving the ball, so I wanted to strike it where it wouldn’t miss,” Okubo said. “The ‘keeper has a tendency to go one way or the other, so I wanted to strike it dead center.”
The draw, the second between the teams in the league this season after they fought out a 3-3 match on July 18, leaves Kashima on 36 points and sixth on the ladder. The Antlers have an Asian Champions League quarterfinal first leg against visiting Tianjin Quanjian looming on Tuesday.
Jubilo have 32 points and sit 10th.