Urawa Reds are the Emperor’s Cup champions for a record eighth time thanks to Tomoaki Makino’s heroics at the death. Makino answered Oita Trinita’s 90th-minute equalizer with a dramatic winner in the third minute of stoppage time to deliver the trophy back to the Reds.
Urawa started the match on the front foot, scoring after just six minutes. Takahiro Sekine’s excellent work on the right saw him dribble through several Trinita defenders before delivering a pass for Ataru Esaka to smash into the open net.
With an early lead, the Reds settled in. They hadn’t allowed a goal in the entire competition and knew they could rely on their back line to make Esaka’s early tally stand up. For much of the match, they were right. They stymied Trinita and entered the 90th minute on the verge of glory.
Then, Trinita broke through. The Cinderella side of the competition who forced extra time with a late goal against Kawasaki Frontale in the semi-finals did it again, equalizing through Matheus and ending Urawa’s perfect defensive record.
As stoppage time ticked on, it appeared as if Urawa would have to win it in extra time, but then they got a 93rd-minute corner kick. Trinita cleared the first attempt, but only as far as Kai Shibato, who blasted a shot on the full volley from 25 yards. Shibato hit it well, but it was not going to find the back of the net until Makino redirected it with a clever header for the dramatic winner.
Makino broke into a full sprint with his teammates in tow as the Urawa faithful filled the National Stadium with noise. The Reds had themselves a last gasp winner and the Emperor’s Cup for an eighth time, breaking a tie with Yokohama F·Marinos for the most by a professional club.
The Reds are now kings of the cup yet again, taking with it the trophy, the glory, and a place in next season’s AFC Champions League.