Urawa forwards Yuichiro Nagai and Tatsuya Tanaka scored goals in the second half as the Reds stunned J. League first-stage champion Jubilo Iwata 2-1 at Iwata Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

“I knew we would have to play very patiently today, and our forwards scored goals, which inspired us,” Urawa defender Masami Ihara, formerly of Jubilo, commented later.

As Ihara expected, the home team took control of the game in the first half, keeping the visitors in check. But two early goals in the second half changed things.

Less than 30 seconds after the break, young forward Tanaka drove up the right flank and sent in a cross, which Jubilo defender Makoto Tanaka failed to clear. Nagai quickly collected the loose ball to fire home the opener.

Three minutes later, Tanaka, a member of Japan’s U-21 Asian Games squad, headed home from close range to give the Reds a 2-0 lead.

Jubilo then launched a number of fierce attacks, but the Reds, guided by former Jubilo manager Hans Ooft, held firm and goalkeeper Norihiro Yamagishi made a great save with his legs on a penalty by Toshiya Fujita early in the second half, after Jubilo midfielder Takashi Fukunishi had been brought down in the box by Ihara.

Jubilo midfielder Hiroshi Nanami curled in a free-kick from one meter outside the box on the right during injury time to cut the deficit to 2-1. But it was all too late for the two-time J. League champion. Iwata collected its first loss in the second stage and second of the season.

“It was a tough game for both sides,” Ooft said as he praised his players’ performance in the second half.

Grampus goes top

Austrian international striker Ivica Vastic scored a second-half brace, set up another and also got sent off as Nagoya Grampus Eight swept aside JEF United Ichihara 3-1 to move top of the J. League second stage on Saturday.

Nagoya was reduced to 10 men for the second week running but managed to stretch its unbeaten run to nine matches and top the early standings on goal difference ahead of Urawa Reds.

At Mizuho stadium, Vastic set up Ryuta Hara to put Nagoya in front in the 21st minute before South Korean World Cup striker Choi Yong Soo leveled for the visitors from the penalty spot nine minutes before the interval.

Vastic converted from the spot three minutes from halftime and completed his second brace in as many matches in the 65th minute but dampened Nagoya’s celebrations when he was red carded for violent conduct seven minutes from time.

Elsewhere, Brazilian Marcos netted his sixth of the season as Vegalta Sendai ended a five-match losing streak with a 1-0 home win over bottom club Yokohama F. Marinos.

Brazilian striker Magrao scored an extra-time winner to give Gamba Osaka a 2-1 win at home to Shimizu S-Pulse and former Croatian international Tomislav Erceg also scored a golden goal as Sanfrecce Hiroshima beat FC Tokyo 2-1 at home.

Sanga defeats Reysol

KASHIWA, Chiba Pref. — Kyoto midfielder Shingo Suzuki’s first-half injury-time goal gave Purple Sanga a 1-0 win over Kashiwa Reysol on Saturday night in J. League Division One action.

The crucial goal came one minute into injury time. Suzuki played a one-two with midfielder Daisuke Nakaharai on the left and cut into the box before skillfully slotting home the winning goal into the net.

“I told myself to hold the ball patiently so that I would break through to score a goal,” Suzuki said later. “I wanted to do something for our teammates as everyone was defending so hard.”

Reysol, which had drawn in the previous two games in the stage, tried to rally in the second half but couldn’t break through the solid Kyoto defense.

“Our players have given everything in the game and we have created a number of chances in the last three games. But we couldn’t finish them off with goals,” Reysol’s new Brazilian manager Aurelio Moreira said. “If we can get a little bit of luck, we will start winning the games.”

Kyoto manager Gert Engels said, “It was an exciting game to the end and our backline did a good job. Our team showed good fighting spirit.” (Kumi Kinohara)

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.