J League big guns Urawa Reds faced up to Afshin Ghotbi’s Shimizu S Pulse over the weekend and returned to their Saitama home with three points. This was a feat which proved too difficult for the two teams above the Reds. Yokohama F Marinos slipped up at Kashima, while Hiroshima managed a draw at Oita.
Yosuke Kashiwagi put the Reds in front with a skillful goal in the 7th minute. The midfielder found himself in the box when a lobbed pass was sent in. Kashiwagi raced free of the back four, before chesting the ball down and sending it packing. In the 28th minute Shinzo Koroki put the visitors further in front with a typical counter attacking goal. Urawa ran out 2-nil winners and now sit just one point off leaders Hiroshima and Yokohama.
Yokohama came unstuck at Kashima after leading 1-nil at half time. F Marinos went ahead when Marquinhos got on the end of Shunsuke Nakamura’s through ball in the 19th minute. It seemed like F Marinos were heading for another three points as young midfielder Manabu Saito began to influence matters. Nevertheless, Kashima stole away with the three points after Yuya Osako turned veteran defender Nakazawa inside out on two occasions. Osako who scored two times in the East Asian Cup has put Kashima in fourth place, just six points from the summit.
Meanwhile leaders Sanfrecce Hiroshima battled to a draw against strugglers Oita Trinita. Lucas Neill’s J League career got off to a disappointing start after playing just 13 minutes of Omiya Ardija’s loss to Kashiwa Reysol. The ‘sun kings’ from Kashiwa are still alive in the ACL, but the juggling act of J League and continental soccer, has affected their consistency. However, nothing could spare Omiya as Kashiwa made the most of some woeful keeping for the first goal, and doubly woeful defending for the second. Kashiwa ran out 3-2 victors after Omiya fought back to level the scores, before succumbing to some more sloppy goalkeeping.
The J League continues on Wednesday 28th August with a blockbuster clash at Yokohama, where they host Urawa. Hiroshima travel to battling Ventforet Kofu, Omiya are in nearby Kawasaki, while Kashima get a chance to climb closer to the top when they commute to Shimuzu.