Vissel Kobe are still in line to win the Meiji Yasuda J1 League title, sitting two points clear of Yokohama F·Marinos at the top of the table, but it took an astounding finish in Matchweek 32 to keep them there.
The Ushi entered the day two points ahead of the Tricolor in their bid for the first title in club history and a Matheus Thuler header had them up 1-0 on third place Urawa Reds. It looked like disaster had struck when José Kanté equalized in stoppage time, dropping Vissel level on points with Marinos.
As the match ticked closer to the end, Urawa earned a free kick in the attacking half. They sent goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa forward to try to nab a winner, but the ball in was claimed by Daiya Maekawa. The Vissel goalkeeper immediately launched a sublime long ball onto Yuya Osako, who had an open goal as Nishikawa tried in vain to sprint back, and the Ushi frontman blasted it home from 45 yards to win it in the final minute of play.
With their title hopes fading and needing a win, Urawa Reds sent goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa up for a critical free kick… what happened next is a moment that will live forever in J.League history! 👀 pic.twitter.com/WB1R4yrksB— J.LEAGUE Official (English) (@J_League_En) November 12, 2023
Not only did Osako snag Vissel three enormous points, but that also marked his 22nd goal of the season, putting him all alone on top of the league in the Top Scorer race.
The confluence of events required for Vissel to even have an opportunity to score a winner in the last minutes is astounding, but for it to happen in the manner it did, from the distance it did, into an unmanned net, is nothing short of miraculous.
Maybe Vissel is a team of destiny? We’ll find out, with the Ushi two points up with two matches to play in a title race for the ages as they try to bring the J1 crown back to Kobe for the first time ever.