YOKOHAMA – A Teruhito Nakagawa goal that was — then wasn’t — then was again overshadowed by 90 minutes of end-to-end attacking play in Yokohama F. Marinos’ 3-1 win over the Urawa Reds on Saturday night at Nissan Stadium.
Matches between teams comprising the J. League’s “Original 10” often produce unforgettable affairs however high — or low — the stakes may be, and Saturday’s encounter was no exception.
Yet it was not Keita Endo’s opener or Edigar Junio’s penalty kick that will make headlines on Sunday, but rather the controversial 68th-minute goal, which started as an offside cross from Endo and bounced off Nakagawa’s hand and into the net.
“At the end of the day it was our fault for letting Marinos get that deep into our end,” said Urawa defender Tomoaki Makino.
Several minutes of chaos ensued on the pitch, with referee Hajime Matsuo at one point appearing to rescind the score before eventually allowing it to stand, much to the displeasure of several thousand Urawa supporters in the away stands.
“You would have to ask the referees,” Urawa manager Tsuyoshi Otsuki said when asked if he’d received an explanation from the officials regarding the goal. “I wasn’t in a position to see it. I’m sure they saw it on TV, but it’s not my place to comment.”
Marinos manager Ange Postecoglou was equally reluctant, calling his discussion with Matsuo “a private conversation” and expressed disappointment at the delay.
“The referees had a difficult job to do,” Postecoglou said. “(The job of) the players is to respect the referees and respect their decisions. In the end the decision is the decision.”
Tensions were already high before the players took to the pitch, extending to an hour ahead of kickoff when two sets of opposing supporters nearly came to blows over a banner covering a billboard of Marinos owner Nissan.
After Urawa opened the game with a couple attacks it was more or less one-way traffic in Yokohama’s favor until the 30th minute, with midfielder Nakagawa frequently creating chances in the final and getting off several shots himself.
Marinos defender Rikuto Hirose nearly scored himself with a probing effort from outside the penalty area that would have gone in under the bar were it not for a leaping clearance by Reds goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa.
Urawa showed signs of life in the 31st minute when striker Fabricio raced up the left flank. His cross might have gone in for an own goal on Takahiro Ogihara’s attempted clearance were it not for a fortunate bounce off the bottom of the crossbar and back into play.
The first goal finally came in the 38th minute when Yokohama capitalized on a grave error by Urawa defender Daiki Hashioka. The 20-year-old slipped on the wet pitch while attempting to backheel the ball to a teammate, leading to a Yokohama counter that culminated in Endo’s low shot from the middle of the penalty area.
“(My teammates) told me they were happy I finally scored,” said Endo of his first goal this season. “We can’t win the league if I don’t score goals.”
After Nakagawa’s did-he-or-didn’t-he goal, Urawa quickly rushed back into the game after Hirose’s clearance attempt turned into an own goal.
The Reds pushed for an equalizer and might have found it were it not for a couple offside plays, but Marinos pulled away late in the game when Urawa’s Takuya Iwanami was called for a handball in the area and Edigar Junio duly converted from the spot.
“(Nishikawa) kept watching where I was moving so I had to change my timing at the last second,” the Brazilian reflected. “We’re playing at home so we have to dominate.”
In other results, Jubilo Iwata earned a 1-0 away win at Matsumoto Yamaga, while Kashima Antlers notched a 4-0 victory in the final game for departing Vegalta Sendai goalkeeper Daniel Schmidt.
Both Osaka teams earned three points, with Gamba edging Shimizu S-Pulse 1-0 and Cerezo handling Nagoya Grampus 3-0.
Oita Trinita eked out a 2-1 win over Consadole Sapporo, while Sanfrecce Hiroshima won 2-0 at Sagan Tosu.
Yoshimune Satake contributed to this report.