Urawa claim slender advantage
Urawa Red Diamonds have one foot in the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2016 after Yuki Abe’s second half penalty gave them a 1-0 win in Kashima.
The J. League’s top team now only have to avoid defeat at home on Saturday to book their place against the winners of FIFA’s five confederations.
Before the game, Kashima Antlers coach Masatada Ishi told the local press that defence would be key for this first leg – and so it proved in a cagey first half.
Indeed, it was the visitors who had the better possession in the opening exchanges and who created the best chance of the opening 45 minutes right on the stroke of half-time. Abe played a good ball to Yuki Muto whose powerful shot was well saved by the keeper.
Ten minutes after the restart, Urawa Reds forward Shinzo Koroki was bundled over in the box by Kashima defender Daigo Nishi and the referee duly awarded a spot-kick. Abe made no mistake with his right foot.
Kashima pushed forward in search of an equaliser but could not break the deadlock, but went close in added time when Shoma Doi’s header shaved the woodwork.