FUKUROI, SHIZUOKA PREF. – Urawa Reds cruised to a 4-1 win at Shimizu S-Pulse to tighten their grip on top spot on Saturday as first-division action in the J. League resumed after a two-week international break.
Ryota Moriwaki scored in his second straight game to set Reds on their way with the opener, drilling in from the edge of the box on 22 minutes at Ecopa Stadium.
Tadanari Lee sprung the offside trap and doubled the lead six minutes later and the game was over as a contest after Tomoaki Makino headed in the third in the 72nd.
Yasuhiro Hiraoka replied with a near-post header, only to put through his own net at the other end in stoppage time and cap a miserable afternoon for S-Pulse, who are now without a win from their last four matches.
The result moves Reds onto 47 points from 23 games, four ahead of Kawasaki Frontale, who moved up to second spot after their 4-0 win at home to bottom club Tokushima Vortis was coupled with surprise defeats for Sagan Tosu and Kashima Antlers. Shimizu have 25 points
“If you look at the 4-1 result you’d probably think it was an easy win for us, but Shimizu had the first chance in the first half and if (Shimizu striker Milivoje) Novakovic’s shot had gone in and not hit the bar the game could have panned out differently,” said Urawa manager Mihailo Petrovic.
“We started to play our game after that and being able to take a 2-0 lead in the first half was massive. Once we got the third it was game over. We showed out strengths in this match but there are also areas where we can improve.”
In other J. League matches, Tosu (41 points) went down 1-0 at Ventforet Kofu and Antlers’ fell seven points off the pace after a 2-1 reverse away to struggling Omiya Ardija.
Omiya had Shohei Takahashi to thank for a 74th-minute winner in the Squirrels’ first game since sacking Kiyoshi Okuma and replacing him with assistant Hiroki Shibuya.
Elsewhere, Ryo Nagai sealed a 2-0 win for Cerezo Osaka against Kashiwa Reysol, their first in the league under new manager Yuji Okuma, while goals from Kengo Kawamata and Kensuke Nagai gave Nagoya Grampus a 2-0 win at Yokohama F. Marinos.
Takashi Usami hit the winner as Gamba Osaka triumphed 1-0 away to Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Vissel Kobe and FC Tokyo finished 1-1 and Albirex Niigata edged Vegalta Sendai 1-0 at the Big Swan.