The Second Stage of the 2003 J1 League was another very close contest. Ahead of the final match-day, league leaders Júbilo Iwata, Kashima Antlers who were in the second place, Yokohama F.Marinos in third and JEF Chiba in fourth all had a chance to clinch the stage’s victory. And on that final day, Iwata and Yokohama FM faced each other!
To claim the title, Yokohama FM needed to top Iwata and Kashima not to win against Urawa Reds. But only two minutes after the showdown kicked off, under torrential rain, Yokohama FM conceded. To make things even worse for them, in the 15th minute, they were reduced to ten men as goalkeeper Tatsuya Enomoto got sent off. It was a tough situation for Yokohama FM, but from then on they showed their incredible fighting spirit.
Marquinhos equalized in the 50th minute, and they kept putting pressure on Júbilo as if they had the same number of players on the pitch. Finally, in additional time, the “miracle” happened. Yokohama’s ace Tatsuhiko Kubo quickly reacted as the ball was bouncing in front of the goal, beat a defender with an incredible leap and scored with a header.
The match ended 2-1. But the drama was far from over. A few minutes later, Urawa equalized against Kashima, again in the dying minute! And in that very moment, Yokohama FM became the second stage’s champions.
By wining both first and second stage, Yokohama FM won the championship in perfect style, just as Iwata had done the year before. In the first year under former Japanese national team coach Takeshi Okada, one of the most historic clubs in Japan showcased their comeback in amazing fashion.