SAITAMA – Urawa Reds ended Shanghai SIPG’s perfect record in the Asian Champions League and took the Group F lead with a 1-0 victory on Tuesday after Oscar missed two penalties in the second half.
Rafael Silva scored the lone goal late in the first half at Saitama Stadium, where Urawa moved level with SIPG on nine points after four games but grabbed the top spot on head-to-head.
“I’ve had a lot to think about this season from an individual standpoint so I went into the game trying to stay strong,” Urawa goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa said. “They really pushed us in the second half but our fans really bailed us out with their support.
“We played poorly away last time,” he added, referring to a 3-2 defeat to SIPG in Shanghai last month. “The important thing is to continue what we did tonight.”
Former J. League-based Brazil international Hulk was a scratch for the game because of a right-ankle injury. Hulk leads Shanghai with three goals in the competition.
Urawa was coming off a 7-0 home win over Vegalta Sendai on Friday and nearly scored not even a minute into the match when Silva hit the right-hand post on the break.
Silva, though, would come through just before halftime as he slotted home into the bottom corner with the assistance of Zlatan Ljubijankic, who fed the Brazilian a short ball across the box.
A win would have secured SIPG’s place in the round of 16, but the visitors struggled to beat Nishikawa despite scaring the Reds throughout the contest.
With 10 minutes left in the first half, Lyu Wenjun’s glancing header hit the left post and the second half saw Shanghai win two penalties — only for Oscar to unsuccessfully convert both.
Yosuke Kashiwagi gifted the first penalty four minutes past the hour, when he brought down Oscar in the area. Yet Nishikawa came up with a big save, diving to his left to tip Oscar’s shot off the bar and keep the Reds in the lead.
Urawa defender Tomoaki Makino donated the second spot kick in the 75th minute, handling Lyu’s cross from the right. Oscar, looking nervous, stepped up again trying to redeem himself but saw his effort sail over the bar as Reds exhaled once more.
In Group H, Gamba Osaka played Jiangsu Suning away later Tuesday. On Wednesday, Kashima Antlers are at Bribane Roar in Group E with Kawasaki Frontale hosting Guangzhou Evergrande in Group G.
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