SAITAMA – A classy second-half finish from midfielder Takuma Edamura was enough to steer Shimizu S-Pulse to a well-earned victory over Urawa Reds on Sunday and move the Shizuoka side into the top five of the table, but Kashiwa Reysol sank further into trouble at the other end with a 1-0 home defeat by Vissel Kobe.
On a surface made slippery by heavy rain, Urawa and Shimizu both struggled to find their feet. Not until the 20th minute did the first shot on target arrive, when Shinji Okazaki’s effort was smartly turned aside by Ryota Tsuzuki Naoaki Aoyama’s header from the subsequent corner went narrowly wide.
Just after the half-hour mark, Edmilson had a gilt-edged chance to put the hosts ahead, chesting down a neat ball into the box from Tadaaki Hirakawa, but he blasted the half-volley over the bar. Twice shortly after the break, strike partner Naohiro Takahara came close to putting Reds in front, first with a speculative drive from 20 meters that was narrowly wide, and then just failing to connect for a point-blank header.
Almost immediately Shimizu midfielder Akihiro Hyodo flashed in a shot from the edge of the box that Tsuzuki did well to turn aside, but neither team looked likely to make a breakthrough. Then, in the 70th minute Daisuke Ichikawa broke down the right for S-Pulse and squared to Edamura, who stroked home first time through a gap in the crowd to give Tsuzuki no chance.
In Kashiwa, the struggling hosts let a valuable point slip from their grasp in a bottom-four clash, with Vissel defender Hiroyuki Komoto scoring the game’s only goal in the 64th minute to put more daylight between Kobe and the bottom three. Reysol remains in the relegation zone, above bottom club Oita Trinita but three points adrift of JEF United Chiba.
In the only other first division game Sunday, Montedio Yamagata did its survival chances a favor by coming from behind to snatch a 1-1 draw against Gamba Osaka. Midfielder Tomokazu Myojin had headed the visitors in front six minutes before halftime, but Yamagata striker Yu Hasegawa’s 71st-minute shot pulled the hosts level.