Ajinomoto Stadium was the stage for one of the J-League’s most remarkable comebacks in history on Saturday as J2 League side Tokyo Verdy reversed a 3-0 deficit in just 12 minutes to beat FC Gifu by a final score of 4-3.
Things seemed grim for the hosts early on as Gifu striker Hiroaki Namba needed just 27 minutes to record a hat trick.
As the match approached full time, 34-year-old Kazuki Hiramoto scored what appeared at first glance to be a consolation goal when he stuffed in a rebound that had clanged off the post in the 84th minute.
Four minutes later, Masaki Chugo sent a well-placed free kick sailing above the wall and past the outstretched hands of Gifu goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi.
As the referee called for five minutes of added time, the Verdy faithful – just over 3,000 of whom assembled on a chilly Saturday afternoon – pushed their team for a third goal.
It came in the 93rd minute, when Alan Pinheiro’s cross from the left corner was met by Ryuji Sugimoto’s diving header for the equaliser.
The storybook ending was not complete, however, until Hiramoto found the net yet again for an unimaginable finish for the J-League co-founders. The comeback from three goals down is the 11th such occurrence in the league.
Namba, whose hat trick also set a new J-League record, declined to speak with reporters in the mixed zone.
“I feel bad for him,” Gifu coach Rui Ramos told a press conference following the match. “He was crying after the match. But this sort of thing happens in life.”
The result sees Verdy rise to seventh in the J-League’s second division, while Gifu remain in last place with just three points from seven matches.