Stoppage time thrillers see Marinos leapfrog Vissel for first place

Stoppage time thrillers see Marinos leapfrog Vissel for first place

There’s a new team atop the Meiji Yasuda J1 League table.

The reigning champions, Yokohama F·Marinos, entered Saturday level on points with Vissel Kobe, who have sat on top for months, but now the Tricolor are clear of the Ushi after winning a thriller over Kashiwa Reysol, while Vissel suffered a difficult loss to Cerezo Osaka.

Marinos started well against Reysol, with Élber drawing a penalty that Anderson Lopes finished in the 13th minute. The match was brought level when Eduardo put the ball in his own net, but the Brazilian made up for it with a magnificent long ball to Élber, who finished to put the Tricolor back on top.

The second half went all Reysol’s way, withSachiro Toshima banging the ball home a minute after the restart then Jay-Roy Grot skying high to head the visitors into the lead. It looked like Marinos were dead, but an 87th minute red card to Yugo Tatsuta reduced Reysol to 10 men and revived the Tricolor.

First, Anderson Lopes scored his second goal of the game and league-leading 13th of the season when he headed home at the end of a gorgeous team move in the fourth minute of stoppage time. Then, substitute Ryo Miyaichi was on the spot to bang a ball at the net in the seventh minute of added time and got the help of a deflection to send Nissan Stadium into raptures.

Marinos had gone from down a goal well into stoppage time to taking all three points with two goals at the death.

It wasn’t just a dramatic win for Marinos either, thanks to the result in Osaka. Vissel and Cerezo were level in stoppage time when Daiya Maekawa came rushing off his line to collect a ball, dribbled it into midfield and gave it away. That allowed Sota Kitano to bang it into the open net as Maekawa watched on in horror.

The two shocking stoppage time results ensured Marinos would rise to the top of the table, three points clear of Vissel. The Ushi do have a match in hand, so there is an easy path for them to get back level with the Tricolor, while Nagoya Grampus and Sanfrecce Hiroshima are still in the title race themselves, which should make for a thrilling second half of the season.

For now, though, a wild Saturday put the champions on top.

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