Football: Dramatic Fujii leveler hands Nagoya draw with leaders Kobe

Defender Haruya Fujii scored a last-gasp leveler as Nagoya Grampus came from two goals down to hold leaders Vissel Kobe 2-2 at home in the J-League first division on Wednesday.

Nagoya salvaged a creditable point to remain three points behind Kobe, who moved up to 23 points. Last season's champions Yokohama F Marinos are up to second on 21 points after a brace from Yan Matheus helped them to a 3-1 comeback win at Sagan Tosu.

In front of 40,789 fans at Toyota Stadium, Fujii scored with the last play of the game after picking up a loose ball outside the box. The 22-year-old Grampus youth product got past a defender faking a shot with his left foot before finding the top corner with his opposite foot via a deflection off a Kobe defender's head.

"I didn't feel I hit it that well, but I'm happy it went in," said Fujii, who recently won a call-up to Japan's national team squad. "It was a match we couldn't lose if we were to go high in the table."

Kobe needed only 11 minutes to go ahead when former Japan forward Yuya Osako's glancing header found the bottom corner following a left-wing cross from Koya Yuruki, with Nagoya keeper Mitch Langerak left stranded.

In an evenly-matched encounter, Nagoya thought they equalized in the 33rd minute when Kensuke Nagai rolled home from the edge of the box, only to see the goal ruled out for offside as Kasper Junker was standing in the way of Kobe keeper Daiya Maekawa.

Osako turned the provider for Kobe's second on the hour mark when he fended off his marker near the byline and played the ball across the goal for substitute Daiju Sasaki to slide into the net.

Junker gave the home side a lifeline in the 73rd minute when Maekawa did well to save a fierce low drive from winger Mateus, only for the ball to fall into the path of the Danish forward Junker, who made no mistake from meters out.

Former Rubin Kazan midfielder Mitsuki Saito was shown his second yellow for Kobe during the second-half stoppage time before Fujii came up with his magic, preventing Kobe from moving six points clear of Nagoya.

Elsewhere, Yuya Yamagishi scored the winner as Avispa Fukuoka saw off FC Tokyo 1-0 at home and moved up to 18 points. Mutsuki Kato scored the 90th-minute winner as Cerezo won 2-1 at Gamba in the Osaka derby.

Kashima Antlers won 1-0 at Consadole Sapporo, while Kawasaki Frontale were also 1-0 winners away to Kyoto Sanga. Kashiwa Reysol won their second match of the season, 2-1 away to Shonan Bellmare.

© Kyodo News