KASHIWA, CHIBA PREF. – Kashiwa Reysol beat Urawa Reds 1-0 in the J. League on Wednesday night, denying the visitors a victory in their first match under new head coach Oswaldo Oliveira.
Hiroto Nakagawa struck the winner for the home side in the 72nd minute, with his goal exposing the defensive frailties that have plagued Urawa and contributed to the firing of former manager Takafumi Hori just five games into the season.
With seven red jerseys in the box, Reysol forward Ataru Esaka leaped to meet a Yuta Nakayama cross from the left sideline and headed the ball down to Nakagawa, who blasted home from the edge of the six-yard box.
Urawa came into the match unbeaten in four previous league matches under interim manager Tsuyoshi Otsuki, who took over following Hori’s dismissal.
Oliveira, who steered Reds’ archrivals Kashima Antlers to three straight J. League titles from 2007, said he would avoid making major tactical or lineup changes until the first division goes into recess late next month ahead of the World Cup.
“I don’t want to make any big changes, at least until the break, so I will keep things the way they are for the time being,” Oliveira said.
The 67-year-old Brazilian, who previously managed several clubs in his home country including Corinthians and Flamengo, said he was relishing the opportunity to coach in Japan once more.
“It’s great. I really enjoy working in Japan so I’m happy to be back,” he said.
Former Japan Under-19 Nakagawa scored his second goal of the season after opening his account against Sagan Tosu on April 11.
“Even better than scoring the goal was the way every player on our team was dedicated to defending firmly,” he said. “We were able to win the ball and once we were in possession, it felt like we could break them down.”
Urawa’s best chance of the opening half came in the 35th minute, when midfielder Kazuki Nagasawa had a close-range shot blocked by Reysol keeper Kosuke Nakamura. Fullback Yuta Nakayama looked to have foiled an Urawa attacking movement when he dispossessed winger Daiki Hashioka in the box, but the ball spilled into the path of Nagasawa who unleashed a shot with his first touch.
In other results Wednesday night, Oliveira’s former club Antlers were held to a 1-1 draw by visiting Vissel Kobe after Yuma Suzuki equalized for the home side in the 54th minute.
At Ajinomoto Stadium, second-place FC Tokyo narrowed the gap on Sanfrecce Hiroshima to six points with a 3-1 victory over the league leaders.
V-Varen Nagasaki continued their march up the table with their fourth-straight league win, a 2-1 victory at Jubilo Iwata.
Hiroyuki Abe and Yu Kobayashi scored for Kawasaki Frontale as the reigning champions kept Sagan Tosu in the relegation zone with a 2-0 victory.
Ken Tokura scored his fourth goal of the season, while Ryosuke Shindo added a second, as Consadole Sapporo came from behind to beat visiting Yokohama F. Marinos 2-1.
At Kincho Stadium, Hiroshi Kiyotake opened his account for the season with a brace to lead Cerezo Osaka to a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over visiting Vegalta Sendai.
Gamba Osaka and Nagoya Grampus continue to prop up the bottom of the table on seven points apiece after losing 1-0 away to Shonan Bellmare and 3-1 at home to Shimizu S-Pulse, respectively.