SAITAMA – Defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka scored a second-half winner Saturday as Urawa Reds came from behind to beat Shimizu S-Pulse 2-1 at home and close in on the second-stage title of the J. League.
68th minute of Saturday’s J. League match against Shimizu
S-Pulse. Urawa won 2-1.
Hideaki Kitajima silenced a raucous crowd of 43,853 at Saitama Stadium 2002 with a 28th-minute strike on a swift counterattack and Urawa missed the target a number of times in an unwelcome reminder of its penalty shootout defeat in the Nabisco Cup final three days ago.
After 68 frustrating minutes, Tomoyuki Sakai’s long-range shot took a cruel deflection off the head of Shimizu defender Ryuzo Morioka and flew into the right-hand corner beyond the reach of goalkeeper Yohei Nishibe.
Tulio then poked home the winner five minutes from the final whistle, following an Alessandro Santos corner that was knocked down by Takuya Yokoyama into the path of the Brazilian-born Under-23 Japanese international.
The hard-fought victory kept the Reds seven points clear of Gamba Osaka and Urawa can clinch its first title in any J. League stage on Nov. 20, when it hosts Nagoya Grampus Eight, while Gamba welcomes Yokohama F. Marinos.
Gamba kept its slim title hopes alive with a 6-3 victory at home to Albirex Niigata.
Goals from Sidiclei, Yasuhito Endo and Fernandinho put Gamba 3-0 ahead at halftime before Masashi Oguro scored a hat trick in the space of 19 minutes in the second half for the home side.
A pair of goals from Fabinho and a Shingo Suzuki strike proved a consolation for Niigata, whose winning run ended at four games.
Elsewhere, FC Tokyo, fresh from winning the Nabisco Cup in midweek, played to a 1-1 home draw with Oita Trinita after an 83rd-minute strike from Lucas was canceled out by Daiki Takamatsu four minutes later.
JEF United Ichihara saw its title hopes dashed after a 2-1 away defeat at the hands of first-stage champion F. Marinos, with Daisuke Sakata rifling home an 81st-minute winner.
At Mizuo Stadium, Brazilians Marques and Ueslei found the net in the opening 14 minutes and Nagoya Grampus Eight went on to beat Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2-1.
Tokyo Verdy won 2-0 at Kashiwa Reysol thanks to a double from 16-year-old striker Takayuki Morimoto in the first 30 minutes.
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