• Kyodo


Urawa Reds dominated possession but lacked a finishing touch Sunday as they were held to a 0-0 draw by visiting Sagan Tosu in the J. League.

Urawa came into the match on the edge of the relegation zone on 15 points with just one league win since Oswaldo Oliveira replaced fired manager Takafumi Hori for the club’s April 25 clash with Kashiwa Reysol, a 1-0 loss.

With Japan manager Akira Nishino watching from the stands at a rain-soaked Saitama Stadium, the hosts spent the majority of the match in second-from-bottom Sagan’s defensive third, searching for a breakthrough that never materialized.

Despite their dominance, Reds were unable to turn their handful of chances into a single shot on target before the break. The first half ended with a free kick given to Sagan, prompting an irate Oliveira to exchange heated words with the officials, and then the Tosu bench, as members of his own staff prevented him from approaching the opposition technical area.

The hosts finally forced a save from Sagan goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda eight minutes into the second half when Mauricio unleashed a shot from the edge of the box.

Reds had a goal waved away three minutes later when Yosuke Kashiwagi was ruled to have been offside prior to Kazuki Nagasawa putting the ball into the net.

With Reds camped out in front of Sagan’s goal, a breakthrough looked inevitable, but the visitors were able to cling on until the final whistle, prompting a smattering of boos from the home side’s supporters.

Urawa defender Tomoaki Makino said the result was a disappointment, despite the team improving its performance from last weekend’s 1-0 loss to arch rivals Kashima Antlers.

“We had possession for long periods and created chances, so we really should have won. It was a waste,” Makino said.

Oliveira, who previously said he would not make major tactical changes until the mid-season recess later this month, reiterated after the game that he would use the World Cup break to institute his own system.

“Once we’ve played our final league game (before the break), we’ll fix a few things in practice during the interval, and I think we can have our style in place for the second half of the season,” the 67-year-old Brazilian said.

In Sunday’s other J. League match, FC Tokyo and Consadole Sapporo also played out a 0-0 draw at Ajinomoto Stadium, remaining in second and third place in the table, respectively.

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