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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Reds in lead


Staff writer

YOKOHAMA -- Urawa Reds put on a devastating second-half display to win 3-1 at Yokohama F. Marinos on Saturday, leapfrogging their rivals to claim the J. League's top spot.

News photo
Urawa Reds Midfielder Shinji Ono battles Yokohama F. Marinos defender Naoki Matsuda for the ball at Nissan Stadium.

Washington scored a brilliant individual goal three minutes after the break and Makoto Hasebe crashed in an unstoppable strike in injury time to add to Nobuhisa Yamada's 43rd-minute goal as the Reds ran riot in front of 50,572 fans at Nissan Stadium.

Yokohama was protected from a more savage mauling by 'keeper Tatsuya Enomoto's heroics, with Hideo Oshima's headed goal just before Hasebe's howitzer giving the final score a flattering look for Marinos.

"We were in total control in the second half, and if it wasn't for their 'keeper, it could have been four or five nil," Reds coach Guido Buchwald said.

Urawa moved to the top of the table and now has 13 points from five games, with Marinos second on 12 from five.

Both sides were anxious not to give too much away in an agonizingly dull first half, but as it was stuttering to a close the Reds took the lead.

Robson Ponte floated in a corner from the left and the ball fell kindly for Yamada, who flicked it to the left of Enomoto from close range.

Washington nearly doubled Urawa's lead just after the break when he collected a clumsy clearance from Enomoto, but the Marinos 'keeper redeemed himself somewhat by saving from the Brazilian.

With the Saitama side looking a little more perky, Marinos responded in kind. Wingback Dutra -- the brightest of a bad bunch for Marinos -- went close moments later when the Brazilian's cross-shot drew a neat save from Ryota Suzuki.

Yokohama's chances were in short supply, with the forward pairing of Tatsuhiko Kubo and Marques given short thrift by a tenacious Reds backline led with authority by Marcus Tulio Tanaka.

Irked by Dutra's threat on goal, Urawa promptly went 2-0 up seconds later. A cute back heel from Ponte in the center circle released Washington, who turned a backpedaling Yuzo Kurihara inside-out before lashing the ball past Enomoto from close range.

"Washington's goal was superb," Buchwald said.

His strike was the cue for some sumptuous soccer from the Reds, with two flowing moves in as many minutes getting the already noisy Reds faithful roaring their approval. Alex Santos released Washington on the left and his effortless cross with the inside of his right foot set up compatriot Ponte, whose half volley was well saved by Enomoto.

Ponte prompted the next move when he released Yamada, who pulled the ball back only to see Shinji Ono -- once again a peripheral figure -- balloon the ball over. Ponte then saw his point-blank header miraculously kept out by Enomoto moments later.

Enomoto carried on his string of wonder saves to keep out Santos and Washington in quick succession before substitute Oshima's header from a Marques cross gave Marinos a tiny flicker of hope.

But Hasebe capped another commanding performance, in some senses carrying the ineffective Ono in the Reds midfield, moments later with a thunderous strike from just inside the area that flew past Enomoto.

Elsewhere, Kawasaki Frontale beat Jubilo Iwata 2-1, while Magno Alves scored twice in Gamba's 3-1 victory over Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

Cerezo Osaka topped Albirex Niigata 3-1, and Omiya Ardija beat Shimizu S-Pulse 1-0.



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