Urawa Red Diamonds ensured they would head into the J.League's FIFA World Cup™ shutdown in first place after reclaiming top spot with a 1-0 win over Cerezo Osaka on Saturday. Teenage substitute Takahiro Sekine scored in the 77th minute to seal Urawa's win over struggling Cerezo, for whom Diego Forlan played his final game before linking up with Uruguay's 25-man provisional World Cup squad.
"It's good that we've been able to rack up the points going into the break," said Urawa captain Yuki Abe. "But we've only played 14 games so far, and whether we can keep on picking up points from here is what's important."
Cerezo head into the break in 11th place despite the marquee signing of former Manchester United and Atletico Madrid star Forlan.
"We were able to isolate Forlan on his own without any support up front," said Urawa manager Mihailo Petrovic. "When the ball came to him we marked him hard, cut down his options and neutralised their attack."
Vissel Kobe drew 1-1 with Shimizu S-Pulse to remain in third place, four points behind Sagan, while Kashima Antlers moved level on points with Vissel after a 1-0 win over Toksuhima Vortis. Elsewhere in the J.League, Kashiwa Reysol crashed 3-0 away to lowly Ventforet Kofu, FC Tokyo scored two goals in the opening three minutes in a 3-0 win over Gamba Osaka, and Albirex Niigata and Nagoya Grampus drew 1-1.