FUKUROI, SHIZUOKA PREF. – A Kengo Kawamata brace propelled Jubilo Iwata to a 2-1 victory Sunday over visiting Urawa Reds, who remain winless after five rounds of the J. League season.
Kawamata broke a 1-1 deadlock with an 80th-minute winner at Ecopa Stadium, as his strike from the left side of the penalty area bounced over Reds goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa after taking a deflection.
The visiting Asian Champions League holders took the lead in the eighth minute from the penalty spot, with Shinzo Koroki converting after Iwata captain Kentaro Oi was ruled to have handled inside the area.
Kawamata almost equalized for the hosts in the 17th minute, when Reds goalkeeper Nishikawa batted his close-range shot onto the crossbar.
The big striker got his equalizer in the last minute of first-half regulation after Shohei Takahashi headed a cross into the path of Kawamata, who gathered with his first touch, then jabbed the ball past Nishikawa with the outside of his left boot.
Kawamata said after the match he was “a little relieved” to open his goal-scoring account for the season with his equalizer.
“(Takahashi) played a great ball in front of me and then I was able to put it on target,” Kawamata said. “(Coach Hiroshi Nanami) has been telling us, ‘You won’t score unless you shoot,’ so we put that into practice today.”
Koroki came within an inch of retaking the lead moments before the halftime whistle, when his shot from the right side of the box curled past Iwata ‘keeper Krzysztof Kaminski and onto the left upright.
Three minutes into the second half, Yuki Muto threaded a pinpoint cross to Koroki, but the Reds striker was denied by Kaminski after firing from the edge of the box.
In search of a breakthrough, Reds coach Takafumi Hori brought on Australian international striker Andrew Nabbout for his J. League debut in the 70th minute, before substituting midfielder Kazuki Nagasawa for striker Tadanari Lee eleven minutes from the end of regulation.
Reds repeatedly put the Jubilo defense under pressure late in the second half but lacked a final touch. The loss leaves Urawa second-last in the table, one point above cellar-dwellers Gamba Osaka.