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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Grampus thump disjointed Reds


Staff writer

SAITAMA — Urawa Reds slumped to their second straight defeat of the new J. League season on Saturday as Nagoya Grampus hit them with a high-tempo onslaught to claim a 2-0 win at Saitama Stadium 2002.

News photo
Urawa Reds defender Keisuke Tsuboi (left) battles Nagoya Grampus Eight forward Keiji Tamada for control of the ball during their J. League match on Saturday at Saitama Stadium 2002. Grampus Eight won 2-0. KYODO PHOTO

Undaunted by Reds' home crowd of 54,482, Grampus surged forward from the first whistle to take a 15th-minute lead through Frode Johnsen.

The visitors kept up the pace to pin a horribly disjointed Urawa back in its own half, and Yoshizumi Ogawa doubled the lead after 69 minutes just as Reds looked like they might get back in the game.

Following its loss to Yokohama F. Marinos last week, Urawa has now made a disastrous start to the season.

Nagoya coach Dragan Stojkovic, on the other hand, looks to have forged an effective unit from a ragtag bunch of players just two games into his first coaching job.

"It is a memorable day for me," Stojkovic said. "I will remember this game and this victory for all my life.

"My view and my aim is always to make an organized team. When I talk about organized, it means defensively and offensively.

"I think my players accepted everything I asked them to do. During the two months before the start of the season, I tried to explain to them what is important to me. When you play organized football, modern football, then the beauty will come."

Reds coach Holger Osieck admitted the long-term absence of injured playmaker Robson Ponte is hurting his team badly, but pinned the blame for Saturday's defeat on basic errors.

"We showed very poor concentration in the first half," he said, "and we lost the ball time after time.

"In the second half we were much better, but we gave Grampus a virtual Christmas present and that made the game very difficult."

Grampus made an explosive start to the match, with Keiji Tamada's enthusiastic running making space for midfielder Magnum to rain in crosses toward Johnsen.

Tamada, celebrating his Friday call-up to the national team after almost two years in the international wilderness, came close with several early attempts, but it was the Norwegian who gave Nagoya the lead with a header from another Magnum cross.

Rather than retreat into its shell, Grampus surged forward after the restart.

Stojkovic has obviously succeeded in getting his message across to his players, and Reds were shocked at having to face down such a gung-ho onslaught in front of their own fans.

Urawa was not helped by the disconnect between its midfield and forward line, with the onus on defensive shield Keita Suzuki to join the dots and start the attacks.

Edmilson came close for the home team with a long-range drive 10 minutes before halftime, but it was indicative of Nagoya's dominance that Reds' strikers were having to operate so far from goal.

Yuichiro Nagai replaced Naohiro Takahara for the second half, after another anonymous performance from the former Eintracht Frankfurt striker, while attacking midfielder Tsukasa Umesaki cooled his heels on the bench.

The home team registered its first real threat on goal after 52 minutes when Suzuki cracked the post, and Takahito Soma and Tadaaki Hirakawa both went close soon after.

Umesaki replaced Suzuki as Reds caught the scent of blood, but Nagoya weathered the storm to grab a second goal in slapstick circumstances.

Johnsen went down under a challenge just inside the Urawa box, and with the Grampus players appealing for a penalty, referee Kenji Ogiya awarded Urawa a free-kick for offside.

'Keeper Ryota Tsuzuki, hoping to take advantage of the confusion, immediately rolled the ball to Nagoya's Ogawa, who promptly lobbed the ball into an empty net.

The Grampus players continued to press forward after the goal, relentlessly harrying Urawa whenever possession was ceded, and closed the game out to deliver a historic first win for their new boss.

Oita improves to 2-0 Kyodo News Oita Trinita improved to 2-0 after beating Kashiwa Reysol 2-0 on Saturday thanks to goals from Mu Kanazaki and Ueslei, as did Yokohama F. Marinos, who had Hideo Oshima to thank for a late double in a 2-1 win at Consadole Sapporo.

Masashi Nakayama completed a miserable week for Gamba Osaka by sealing a 3-0 win for Jubilo Iwata, while Leandro grabbed a hat trick as Vissel Kobe thrashed visiting Kawasaki Frontale 4-1.

Yasuyuki Konno's 12th-minute strike proved decisive as FC Tokyo survived a second-half fightback to edge Albirex Niigata 3-2 away. Shimizu S-Pulse won 2-1 at JEF United Chiba on Shinji Okazaki's 85th-minute effort.



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