SAITAMA – Substitute forward Atomu Tanaka struck the winner in the 84th minute as Cerezo Osaka beat the Urawa Reds 2-1 on Friday.
Picking up where they left off before the international break, Cerezo registered a fourth straight league win to move up into fifth place.
For the Reds, meanwhile, the loss at Saitama Stadium continued a woeful run that has seen them without a win since July 20.
After Riku Matsuda gave the visitors the lead in the 47th minute, the Reds looked on course for a share of the points thanks to a 60th-minute equalizer from Shinzo Koroki.
But Tanaka, who entered in the 71st minute for Yoichiro Kakitani, struck as the clock ticked away, receiving a short pass from Matsuda before scorching the net from the top of the arc.
“It was a one-on-one situation, and I was able to score. I saw I had a chance, so I took it, and the outcome was a great goal,” said Tanaka, whose only other league goal this year came in a 2-0 win over Vegalta Sendai on March 30.
Despite the visitors having the edge in possession, Urawa created more chances in the opening half, but was unable to put any of its five shots on target.
With the second half barely under way, Yusuke Maruhashi took possession near halfway and ran unchecked down the left wing, sending a diagonal ball that Kota Mizunuma left for Matsuda, who fired home from the top right of the area.
As both teams looked to attack quickly from the back, opportunities opened up at either end. Bruno Mendes saw a close-range attempt smothered moments before Koroki had a shot blocked near the opposite goal mouth.
Koroki was in the right place at the right time to score the equalizer. From deep in their own half, the Reds played the advantage after midfielder Kazuki Nagasawa was nearly tripped, but kept his footing and possession.
Making a run through the center, Nagasawa picked out Takuya Ogiwara, who surged down the left and fired a shot from a tight angle that ricocheted off the opposite post and straight to Koroki, who tapped in from directly in front.
But Cerezo were quick to take advantage after the Reds were reduced to 10 men when Yuki Abe was marched in the 82nd minute for a second yellow card.
In the night’s other match, Kenta Nishizawa scored a brace to lead Shimizu S-Pulse to a 3-2 win over visiting Nagoya Grampus.
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