J.League Classic Match: #2 Young playmaker secures second league title in a row for Kashima Antlers

J.League Classic Match: #2 Young playmaker secures second league title in a row for Kashima Antlers

In the 2001 J.League Division 1 Championship finals, the two contenders were Júbilo Iwata, who had won the 1st Stage with only one defeat; and Kashima Antlers, who had won the 2nd Stage and were determined to defend the title won the previous season.

Iwata were the dominant side in the 1st leg at home. After taking the lead from the spot, in the 11th minute, they outnumbered Kashima who had a player sent off in the 37th minute. When Masashi Nakayama extended the lead from a counterattack early in the second half, it seemed certain that Júbilo would snatch the first leg.

However, 10-men Kashima didn’t give up. Yutaka Akita’s header off a corner cut the deficit in half in the 79th minute, and only 4 minutes later, substitute Tomoyuki Hirase scored a crucial equalizer. As a result of these late goals, the first match ended in a 2-2 draw.

The 2nd leg in Kashima was also a close match. Both teams created chances but failed to find a winner, and the scoreline was still nailed on a 0-0 result after 90 minutes. With aggregate score of 2-2, the match went into extra time.

In the 100th minute, Antlers obtained a free-kick right outside the penalty box, and it was Mitsuo Ogasawara who stepped up and scored the winning goal. Thanks to the young playmaker’s incredible execution, Kashima were crowed champions for the fourth time, securing back-to-back league titles.