Kai Shibato was the hero for Urawa Red Diamonds on Sunday as his last-gasp goal ensured a 4-3 victory for his team over Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo at the Sapporo Dome. The Matchweek 16 tie served up a thrilling classic that would surely be remembered in years to come, with Urawa going 2-0 up initially before being pegged back 2-2 by Consadole, who then took a 3-2 lead, only for Urawa to recover and score two more goals to bring home the three points.
Tsuyoshi Otsuki’s Urawa had initially assumed full control of the match, with Kenyu Sugimoto scoring twice in the opening twenty minutes. Sugimoto scored his first goal from the penalty spot in the 13th minute after Thai international Chanathip Songkrasin had fouled Takahiro Sekine inside the Consadole penalty box, before adding to his tally in the 20th minute after capping off an excellent counterattacking move initiated by Takuya Aoki, shrugging off a challenge from Consadole’s Ryosuke Shindo and firing off a shot that went between the legs of Consadole goalkeeper Takanori Sugeno.
However, hosts Consadole refused to buckle just like that and they surged their way back into the tie. Former Cardiff City and Queens Park Rangers man Jay Bothroyd spearheaded the Consadole fightback, scoring a brace of his own to draw the scoreline level. Bothroyd reduced the deficit first in the 31st minute after heading in an excellent cross from Lucas Fernandes, before the Englishman smashes home the equalizer in the 35th minute through another header.
Sugimoto then turned from hero to villain for Urawa after he inadvertently headed the ball past Shusaku Nishikawa in the 67th minute, thus giving Consadole a 3-2 lead. However, Sugimoto’s blushes were spared in the 75th minute after Tomoaki Makino made it 3-3, taking advantage of a Koya Yuruki cross that was cleared away poorly by Sugeno.
Consadole’s Shunta Tanaka nearly gave his team the lead in the dying minutes of the match, before substitute Shibato smashes home the winner in the fourth minute of injury time, having being fed the ball excellently by former Curacao international Quenten Martinus.
The 4-3 defeat meant that 14th placed Consadole are now winless in their past nine games, while the three points meant that Urawa have moved up to 6th in the J1 table.
Sunday’s Matchweek 16 action also saw league leaders Kawasaki Frontale asserting their dominance over everyone else as they smashed Sanfrecce Hiroshima 5-1 at the Todoroki Athletics Stadium, courtesy of a brace from Ao Tanaka. Kawasaki’s closest chasers Cerezo Osaka also won their Matchweek 16 game, a dramatic, come-from-behind 2-1 win over defending J1 champions Yokohama F. Marinos.
Sagan Tosu’s revival after their COVID-19 scare continues after they shrugged off a Michael Olunga goal in the 24th minute to score twice and emerge out as 2-1 winners over Kashiwa Reysol at the Ekimae Real Estate Stadium, while Vegalta Sendai were humiliated 3-0 at their own backyard by Oita Trinita. Shonan Bellmare, meanwhile, won their first game in nine matches after they edged out Gamba Osaka 1-0 at the Panasonic Stadium Suita.
53-year old legendary striker Kazuyoshi Miura watched on from the bench as his Yokohama FC side recover from a goal down to beat Nagoya Grampus 3-2 at the NHK Spring Mitsuzawa Stadium.
Last but not least, Saturday’s Matchweek 16 action saw Dankler scoring a last-gasp goal to rescue a point for Vissel Kobe in a 2-2 draw with FC Tokyo at the Misaki Park Stadium, while Thai international Teerasil Dangda was on the scoresheet as his Shimizu S-Pulse side went down 2-1 at home to Kashima Antlers.