SAITAMA — Nobuhisa Yamada’s delightful chipped goal triggered an excellent second-half display from Urawa Reds as they ran out 3-1 winners against Avispa Fukuoka in the Nabisco Cup on Wednesday evening.

News photo

Marcus Tulio Tanaka of the Urawa Reds reacts after scoring against Avispa
Fukuoka during their Nabisco Cup clash in Saitama.

Avispa defender Alex’s clinical left-foot strike put the visitors ahead in the eighth minute of the Group A clash at a packed Komaba Stadium before Satoshi Horinouchi drew the Reds level on 25 minutes from close range.

Urawa captain Yamada put Urawa ahead early in the second half when he ran on to a Teruako Kurobe through ball that Avispa defender Takashi Hirajima failed to cut out and dinked the ball over advancing ‘keeper Ryuichi Kamiyama.

Reds center back Marcus Tulio Tanaka made sure late on with a powerful header from a Takahito Soma cross. In the other Group A match, Yokohama F. Marinos beat FC Tokyo 2-0, meaning both Marinos and Reds have four points from two games.

“We were good on the counter attack and created a lot of chances . . . there was some very good soccer on display today from our players in the second half,” Reds manager Guido Buchwald said.

Both Urawa and Avispa had little time to recover from their J. League clash in Fukuoka just three days before, when a near full-strength Urawa won 1-0 to cement its position at the top of the table, with 17 points from seven games.

Avispa on the other hand is in 16th place in the J. League, with four points from seven, but the apparent gulf in class wasn’t evident in the first half.

But then again, the Reds were without first-teamers Robson Ponte, Washington, and Alex Santos, who watched from the press box, while Shinji Ono is still recovering from an injury sustained in the Sunday match.

Urawa showed precious little invention in the first period, with just Yamada and Makoto Hasebe rising above the bog-standard fare on offer.

Coach Buchwald wasn’t impressed, and was out of his seat and barking instructions at his charges immediately after seeing his side go 1-0 down.

Horinouchi’s equalizer had a calming effect on the German for a while, but he was drawn out of the dugout again when Tulio was brought down in the area just before halftime.

“It was a foul. Tulio should have had a penalty,” an adamant Buchwald said.

News photoFC Tokyo defender Teruyuki Moniwa (left)
fights Yokohama F. Marinos defender Naoki Matsuda for the
ball during their Nabisco Cup match at Mitsuzawa

If any spies from group rival Yokohama F. Marinos were on board the blacked out blimp that sailed over the stadium in the first half, they would have had a rather encouraging report to send back to the coach Takeshi Okada.

Ultimately, though, one that would have been misleading. All it needed was a halftime Buchwald blast and Urawa took to the pitch in the second period with a lot more urgency.

The Reds got an early break when Yamada stole through and chipped the ball home on 55 minutes, before a barrage of Reds pressure late in the second half culminated with Tulio’s header with seven minutes remaining.

Midfielder Soma contrived to dig out an excellent cross from the left touch line and Tulio’s desire lifted him above an Avispa defender so he could power a header past Kamiyama.

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