SHIZUOKA – South Korea striker Ahn Jung Hwan struck a dramatic late winner as nine-man Shimizu S-Pulse shocked leader Urawa Reds 1-0 in J. League action on Saturday afternoon.
the second division-side secured promotion with a 2-1 win over Sagan
Tosu on Saturday in Hiroshima.
Despite the defeat, Nabisco Cup winner Urawa remained at the top of the second-stage standings, for 24 hours at least, after the Yokohama F. Marinos were beaten 2-1 at home by Kashima Antlers.
Urawa has 22 points with two games of the stage remaining and lead JEF United Ichihara, which won 1-0 at home to struggling Cerezo Osaka, on goal difference. Kashima kept its title hopes alive by moving into third on 21 points.
FC Tokyo missed out on a chance to go to the top after a 1-0 defeat away to Gamba Osaka and stayed on 20 points in five-way tie for fourth with Yokohama, Gamba, Jubilo Iwata and Tokyo Verdy.
Defending champion Iwata plays Verdy on Sunday.
Missing Brazilian star striker Emerson through suspension, Urawa came closest to breaking the deadlock in a cagey affair at Nihondaira Stadium when Nobuhisa Yamada hit the crossbar in the first half.
But Hans Ooft’s men were unable to capitalize on their two-man advantage after Masaaki Sawanobori (56) and Kazumichi Takagi (76) both received their marching orders and disaster struck with 60 seconds of normal time remaining.
Ahn controlled a cross from the right and turned inside to beat Urawa goalkeeper Ryota Tsuzuki at the near post for his 11th goal of the season.
“I knew a chance would come my way sooner or later and I’m just glad I was able to take it,” Ahn said after the match.
Chasing a two-stage double, Yokohama needed just four minutes to take the lead through Japan striker Tatsuhiko Kubo, but the home side was reduced to 10 men on 23 minutes when Yoo Sang Chul was given a straight red for violent conduct.
Mitsuo Ogasawara pulled Kashima level with a blast in the 65th minute and orchestrated the second, which Sydney Olympic striker Tomoyuki Hirase converted from close range, to seal the win 15 minutes from time.
In Chiba Prefecture, South Korean striker Choi Yong Soo struck the winner for Ichihara from the penalty spot in a ill-tempered affair.
Japan striker Yoshito Okubo and Takeshi Hamada were both sent off for Cerezo on a day that saw a total of seven red cards shown in six matches.
Relegation-threatened Oita Trinita managed to hold Nagoya Grampus Eight to a 0-0 draw, despite having Japan Under-22 striker Daiki Takamatsu and Brazilian hothead Will sent for an early shower, while fellow struggler Vissel Kobe drew 2-2 at home to Kashiwa Reysol.
Hiroshima movin’ up
HIROSHIMA (Kyodo) A free kick on the stroke of halftime from Koji Morisaki sealed Sanfrecce Hiroshima promotion back to the J. League first division after a 2-1 win at home to lowly Sagan Tosu on Saturday.
Naoki Naruo canceled out Brazilian Marcelo’s seventh-minute opener for the home side but Japan Under-22 midfielder Morisaki’s strike put Hiroshima back in front and they held on to ensure a return to the top flight at the first attempt.
The win put Hiroshima on 86 points, one clear of Albirex Niigata and four ahead of Kawasaki Frontale with one game of the season left to play.
Hiroshima’s cause was helped by Niigata and Kawasaki, who both failed to win against unfancied opponents.
Niigata was beaten 2-1 at Avispa Fukuoka while Frontale earned a 2-2 draw away to struggling Shonan Bellmare.
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.