Reds end seven-game losing streak


SAITAMA — Urawa Reds finally snapped their seven-game losing streak on Sunday with a 4-1 win over Montedio Yamagata that was not quite as convincing as the final score might suggest.

Sergio Escudero gave Urawa the chance to wipe out the pain of the past two-and-a-half months with a fifth-minute opener, and a penalty converted by Robson Ponte 17 minutes later suggested Volker Finke’s side was ready to set the record straight with a deluge of goals at Saitama Stadium.

But Tatsuya Furuhashi replied immediately to pull one back for lowly Yamagata, leaving Reds toiling for most of the second half until a 76th-minute Hajime Hosogai strike and a Takuya Miyamoto own-goal gave the scoreline a more emphatic slant.

Finke acknowledged his players had not always made things easy for themselves, but was more concerned about breaking a slump that had dropped Urawa to 10th place at the start of the day.

“It’s nice to win at last after such a bad run of defeats,” he said. “We needed these three points. We created a lot of chances and also missed a lot of chances, and the game was far from being as easy as the score suggested.

“I want to say thanks to the fans, because if they get angry in a situation like ours, it becomes very difficult. We have been through a very tough period, and their support was important.”

Escudero helped settle Urawa’s early nerves when he controlled a clearance on the edge of the box, before letting fly with a left-foot shot that sailed into the top corner.

Genki Haraguchi then set off on a slaloming run at the Yamagata defense, and although referee Kazuhiko Matsumura was not convinced by the young winger’s tumble in the box, he had no hesitation in pointing to the spot when Edmilson went down under the next challenge.

But if Ponte’s penalty looked to have made the game safe for Urawa, Yamagata had other ideas.

Kohei Miyazaki shrugged off Keisuke Tsuboi to send a cross into the area, and with Marcus Tulio Tanaka struggling to get back in time, Furuhashi was on hand to stab home from close range.

Edmilson hit the bar and Haraguchi also went close when he burst through a crowd of defenders after the interval, but it was a rare injection of pace in a Reds side looking too stale and ponderous to add to its tally.

“We had problems when it was 2-1,” Finke said. “The players became a little uncertain and hesitant after losing so many games, so mentally it was very important to come through this.”

After much huffing and puffing, however, the goals finally came. Edmilson laid the ball off into the path of the onrushing Hosogai, and the left back smashed the ball past goalkeeper Kenta Shimizu into the roof of the net.

Miyamoto then bundled Tulio’s cross-cum-shot into his own net to give the home side a fourth three minutes from time, leaving Finke confident his side is moving in the right direction.

“We have been making far too many unforced errors recently, and most of the goals against us have come from mistakes,” he said. “We made mistakes today, but far fewer. We still have a lot of work to do, but to score four today was good.

“We have been working hard and you could see the improvement. Next I want to see Haraguchi and Edmilson get on the scoresheet.”

In the day’s other game, Oita Trinita defeated Jubilo Iwata 2-1.