Japan Update: Urawa Reds Close in on First J-League Title
TOKYO (Reuters) - Urawa Reds rebounded from their midweek Nabisco Cup final defeat with a battling 2-1 victory at home to Shimizu S-Pulse on Saturday.
The result left Urawa one win away from securing the J-League second-stage title.
Defender Tulio stabbed home from close range in the 85th minute to give the Reds all three points after going behind to a Hideaki Kitajima goal midway through the first half.
Tomoyuki Sakai settled the crowd of 44000 at Saitama World Cup Stadium with a deflected long-range effort that took a wicked deflection off S-Pulse's Ryuzo Morioka in the 69th minute.
Urawa beaten on penalties by FC Tokyo in the Nabisco Cup final on Wednesday can clinch their first J-League title with victory over Nagoya Grampus Eight on November 20.
There are no J-League games scheduled next weekend due to the Asian World Cup qualifiers on November 17.
The Reds have 31 points from 12 games in the second stage seven clear of Gamba Osaka who thrashed Albirex Niigata 6-3 at home.
Striker Masashi Oguro claimed a hat-trick in a match the visiting defenders will quickly want to forget to keep Gamba's mathematical title hopes alive.
JEF United Ichihara were eliminated from the title race after they were beaten 2-1 at Japanese champions Yokohama F-Marinos.
'Who even said we were trying to win the championship?' Ichihara's Bosnian manager Ivica Osim asked cryptically. 'That's nonsense!'
Newly crowned Nabisco Cup winners FC Tokyo had hoped to celebrate their first major trophy with a home victory but were held to a 1-1 draw by lowly Oita Trinita.
Meanwhile fifth-placed Nagoya beat visiting Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2-1 and Osvaldo Ardiles's Tokyo Verdy were 2-0 winners at Kashiwa Reysol.
First-stage champions Yokohama will face the eventual winners of the second stage in the two-leg J-League championship final in December.