Shimizu beat Urawa to keep J-League lead
Norwegian striker Frode Johnsen scored a decisive injury time goal to keep Shimizu S-Pulse on top of the J-League table with a 2-1 win over former Asian club champions Urawa Red Diamonds on Saturday.
The goal came three minutes into stoppage time when Johnsen nodded home a cross from midfielder Akihiro Hyodo. Earlier, Japan international striker Shinji Okazaki opened the scoring for Shimizu with a header from a Jungo Fujimoto corner in the 17th minute, but Brazilian Ponte fired a 25-metre equaliser in the 22nd minute.
"I think Urawa were not aggressive like they usually do, they were a bit defensive, so we couldn't make chances to attack very well," said Shimizu coach Kenta Hasegawa. "But Fujimoto did a good job starting attacks and created several chances. We were careful for Brazilians Ponte and Edmilson, and we lost a goal. But afterwards we cope with them pretty well," he added.
Meanwhile, Urawa's German coach Volker Finke said, "It was very disappointing that we lost a goal like that in the end, because we played an excellent game and our defence and offense were solid. It was unlucky."
Shimizu, still unbeaten in nine games, now have 21 points, two points clear of Nagoya Grampus and Kawasaki Frontale, and three points above Kashima Antlers. Urawa trail on 16. Brazilian-born Japan international defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka scored a header with only a minute left on the clock to give Nagoya a 2-1 win over Montedio Yamagata.
Kawasaki came back from a goal down twice to beat Shonan Bellmare 4-2, while defending champions Kashima defeated Gamba Osaka 2-1. In other games, Albirex Niigata posted their long-awaited first win of the season to get out of bottom place, beating Vissel Kobe 2-1, Yokohama Marinos beat Jubilo Iwata 1-0, and Vegalta Sendai drew with Cerezo Osaka 1-1. Omiya Ardija defeated Kyoto Sanga 2-1, and Sanfrecce Hiroshima downed FC Tokyo 2-1.