Brazilian defender Jesiel headed in the last-gasp winner on Sunday, lifting two-time reigning J. League champions Kawasaki Frontale past the current first-division leaders, Yokohama F. Marinos, by a 2-1 final score.
The win at Kawasaki’s Todoroki Stadium moved Frontale to fourth on 40 points, eight behind Marinos with two games in hand.
“Frontale showed its mettle tonight, everyone fighting for all they were worth right to the end. I’m so happy,” said Jesiel, who only made his belated season debut on July 30 after a long recovery from injury.
“It is special to come back after a long rehabilitation and make a difference here with the fans and teammates, who are like family. This game, I believe, will mark our push to retain our title.”
The hosts opened the scoring with a minimum of buildup in the 25th minute. Shogo Taniguchi’s long ball found Miki Yamane in space to the right of the penalty area, and Leandro Damiao met Yamane’s volleyed cross for a lightning-quick strike.
Damiao’s goal came moments after he was hauled down from behind when trying to control a goal kick. Marinos’ Brazilian defender Eduardo did not receive a yellow card for the foul, despite having both hands around his compatriot’s neck as they fell backward to the turf.
As the hosts were applying pressure in first-half injury time, a deflected cross came back to set up a Marinos counter.
Brazilian forward Elber stormed ahead, his through pass to Teruhito Nakagawa splitting two defenders. Nakagawa outraced one of them and chipped keeper Jung Sung Ryong when he came out to challenge him.
At the end of a high-octane but scoreless second half, Marinos once more proved vulnerable to a cross from the right after leaving an attacker out there in space.
Jesiel playing far up the field on a throw-in from the left was perfectly poised in front of goal to meet Akihiro Ienaga’s cross in the game’s final seconds, and celebrated by diving into the stands at Todoroki Stadium.
Elsewhere, Shimizu S-Pulse moved out of the relegation zone with a 2-0 away win over FC Tokyo, Sagan Tosu earned a 2-0 home win over Jubilo Iwata, and Consadole Sapporo thumped their hosts, Shonan Bellmare, 5-1.