• Kyodo


The Urawa Reds moved back into the thick of the title race with a thrilling 4-3 win away to Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the J. League first division on Sunday.

News photoUrawa Reds defender Nene (left) celebrates after scoring in the 71st minute of Sunday’s J.
League match against Sanfrecce Hiroshima at Hiroshima Big Arch Stadium. The Reds won 4-3.

Hiroshima striker Hisato Sato scored a hat trick but Brazilian defender Nene’s 71st-minute header proved decisive as Urawa climbed into third in the table, seven points behind leader Gamba Osaka, which was shocked 2-1 at Kashiwa Reysol on Saturday.

Gamba tops the table on 47 points with 10 games left to play with Kashima Antlers in second on 46 and Urawa with 40. Defeat for Hiroshima saw it drop 11 points back.

Urawa Striker Yuichiro Nagai deservedly put the visitor in front when he arrived unmarked at the post to poke home Tatsuya Tanaka’s cross into an empty net in the 33rd minute.

Sato leveled with a header a minute before the interval only for Urawa to restore its lead seconds later through Robson Ponte.

Sato struck again with a wonderful first-time finish from Ri Han Jae’s cross, but captain Kazuyuki Morisaki gifted Urawa the lead again by chesting Nagai’s right-wing cross into his own net.

Nene then headed home from a corner to make it 4-2.

Urawa’s traveling army of fans had barely finished celebrating when Sato grabbed his 11th goal of the season to complete his hat trick, but Urawa held on despite late pressure to take all three points.

“After last week’s defeat this was a game we knew we had to win. We have got the three points and now we have to make sure we keep winning,” said Ponte.

In the day’s other game, Brazilian striker Marquinhos scored both goals in Shimizu S-Pulse’s 2-1 win at home to Albirex Niigata.

Nagoya fires Nelsinho

NAGOYA (Kyodo) J. League first-division club Nagoya Grampus Eight said Sunday it has fired manager Nelsinho after a run of poor results.

Assistant coach Hitoshi Nakata will act as caretaker manager until Nagoya appoints a replacement for the 55-year-old Brazilian, who was unable to lift his side into title contention since taking over in August 2003.

Miura hopes boosted

YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) Yokohama FC will allow veteran striker Kazuyoshi Miura to leave for Oceania champion Sydney FC once the J. League second-division side have its promotion hopes dashed this season, Yokohama FC vice president Hisao Sakamoto said Sunday.

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