Soccer / J. League

Oswaldo Oliveira earns first win as Urawa manager behind two goals from Shinzo Koroki

Kyodo

Shinzo Koroki scored a goal in each half Wednesday night to lead Urawa Reds to a 2-0 victory away against reigning J. League champions Kawasaki Frontale and give Oswaldo Oliveira his first win as their manager.

The 67-year-old Brazilian oversaw back-to-back defeats in his first two games since replacing sacked head coach Takafumi Hori, but said he would avoid making major changes until the pre-World Cup recess starting later this month.

The visitors nevertheless put together arguably their most impressive 90 minutes of soccer this season, ceding possession to the hosts and hitting on the counterattack at a wet Todoroki Stadium.

Koroki blasted his seventh goal of the campaign from the middle of the box in the 15th minute after Tomoya Ugajin’s short cross took a deflection and dropped directly into the striker’s path.

He added No. 8 five minutes into the second half when new signing Andrew Nabbout beat the offside trap on a counterattack and made a run down the right wing before serving up a pinpoint cross that Koroki tapped in from directly in front.

Frontale keeper Jung Sung-ryong torpedoed his team’s hopes of a comeback in the 70th minute, when he earned a straight red card for upending Nabbout with a horribly mistimed tackle outside the box. The Australia international landed awkwardly and shortly afterward left the pitch clutching his shoulder.

After starting the J. League season with three losses and two draws, the Reds fired 2017 Asian Champions League-winning manager Hori and appointed training and youth director Tsuyoshi Otsuki as interim head coach.

Otsuki guided the side to three wins and a draw in his four league matches at the helm before former Kashima Antlers boss Oliveira’s debut last Wednesday, a 1-0 loss to Kashiwa Reysol at home.

“It was a very difficult game against Kawasaki,” Oliveira said.

“Firstly, I wanted to make sure we marked them very closely, and I think we did that, and as they moved, spaces opened up which we were able to exploit.”

Reds’ next fixture is a showdown on the road with archrival Kashima, taking Oliveira back to where he won three straight league titles from 2007.

“There will be mixed emotions, but I’m an Urawa man now, so I want to make sure we play as well as we can,” he said.

In results from the other eight matches played across Japan on Wednesday, Kashima Antlers beat visiting V-Varen Nagasaki after Mu Kanazaki bagged a 30th-minute winner for his sixth goal of the campaign.

Yokohama F. Marinos dropped into the relegation zone after a Taishi Taguchi brace propelled Jubilo Iwata to a 3-1 victory at Nissan Stadium.

First-half goals to Cristiano and Ataru Esaka gave visiting Kashiwa Reysol a 2-1 victory over Shonan Bellmare at BMW Stadium.

Nagoya Grampus remained rooted to the bottom of the table after being held to a 0-0 draw by visiting Cerezo Osaka, while Gamba Osaka inched out of the relegation zone with a 1-0 victory at home to Vegalta Sendai.

FC Tokyo and Vissel Kobe maintained their positions in second and eighth, respectively, after playing out a scoreless draw at Noevir Stadium.