Yokohama F·Marinos’ visit to Kashiwa Reysol started brightly, with the second-place side nearly scoring several times in the opening minutes, but it looked like it had all fallen apart in the 35th minute. A reckless tackle by Marcos Júnior was reviewed by VAR and ruled to be a red card offense, sending Marinos down to 10 men and dealing their hopes of winning a fifth straight game a major dent.

Marinos would not be deterred, though.

Despite being down a man, Marinos continued to push and were still on the front foot. Daizen Maeda and Ado Onaiwu were a constant menace to the Reysol defense and with the match into the final 15 minutes, they broke through.

Maeda got free down the right before spotting a streaking Onaiwu at the back post. He delivered a great ball that brought the Reysol goalkeeper out of his goal, and when he could not parry it away, Onaiwu was there to expertly finish past a leaping defender who tumbled into the net. It marked Onaiwu’s 11th goal of the season, good enough for fourth in the MEIJI YASUDA J1 LEAGUE.

Not even five minutes later, Maeda was back at it again, but this time he did it all alone. After his tenacious pressing put Reysol in a bad spot, Maeda closed down the goalkeeper, taking it off his foot and then tapping into a wide-open goal for his 10th tally of the campaign and a 2-0 Marinos advantage.

That the visitors did all this while down to 10 men was astonishing, but they still had to finish off the match. Reysol came back strong and Mao Hosoya did score in the 89th minute, but it was not enough to topple this powerful Marinos outfit led by Maeda and Onaiwu.

With the Yokohama side picking up their fifth consecutive win, they not only solidified their second-place status, but moved within 12 points of first-place Kawasaki Frontale and still have two matches in hand. Catching the defending champions will be difficult, but Marinos are red hot and no strangers to a close title race. There may just be one after all.