The stage was set for the biggest match of the Meiji Yasuda J1 League season. A massive crowd packed Nissan Stadium to see first-place Vissel Kobe meet second-place Yokohama F·Marinos, with the two sides separated by just one point in the fight for the title.
The opening stages of the match were nervy and tense, but it was Marinos who had the first real chance after seven minutes, when Ken Matsubara’s shot dragged just wide.
The match then turned Vissel’s way as a VAR decision went in their favor.
While the referee initially saw no problem with Marinos defender Eduardo's attempt to stop a Muto volley, VAR did.
After the referee watched the replay and found sufficient contact on Muto's leg, he awarded the Ushi a penalty that Osako buried to put the visitors in front. The tally marked Osako’s league-leading 20th goal of the season, a new personal single-season record.
Muto continued to be a menace to the Marinos defense, heading off the crossbar in an attempt to double the Vissel lead. He would not relent and just before halftime he finally found the back of the net when he nodded a corner kick home to send Vissel into the break up 2-0.
The Ushi did well to lock down the second half, with Marinos only managing a couple opportunities and Daiya Maekawa stepping up to turn them away.
When the final whistle went, several Vissel players fell to the ground. They had stepped up in the biggest game of the season and extended their lead to four points with only five matches to go, putting them on the verge of the first league title in club history.