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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Edmilson leads Reds back to top of J. League table


By GUS FIELDING
Kyodo News

SAITAMA — Normal service was resumed in the J. League on Tuesday as Urawa Reds went top of the table, for a few hours at least, with a thrilling 4-2 win over promoted Consadole Sapporo.

News photo
Twice as nice: Urawa Reds striker Edmilson scores the second of his two goals in the 86th minute against Consadole Sapporo in Tuesday's J. League first-division match at Saitama Stadium 2002. Reds won 4-2. KYODO PHOTO

Missing several first-team regulars, Urawa twice went behind in the first half at Saitama Stadium 2002, but a double from Edmilson saw Gert Engels' men extend their unbeaten streak in all competitions to nine matches.

Urawa top the table on 19 points from nine games, leading Nagoya Grampus on goal difference after Grampus were beaten 2-1 at home by Kawasaki Frontale.

Sapporo got off to a flying start and Makoto Sunakawa silenced the majority of a bank holiday crowd of 48,000 when he collected a through ball from Hironobu Haga and fired the visitors into a shock seventh-minute lead.

Naohiro Takahara thought he had leveled from a well-worked free kick on 20 minutes but the goal was disallowed for offside before the game really came to life with three goals in the space of four minutes.

Sapporo goalkeeper Takahiro Takagi gifted Yuki Abe the equalizer on 25 minutes, fumbling a seemingly innocuous shot from the Japan international, but the Reds had barely finished celebrating that goal when Shingo Shibata arrived unmarked at the far post to head home Claiton's free kick.

However, Marcus Tulio Tanaka restored equilibrium when he climbed to meet Tsukasa Umesaki's corner on 29 minutes. Then Edmilson finished a neat one-two for his first goal at home to give the Reds the lead for the first time.

Edmilson spurned a hatful of chances before he wrapped up the scoring by lashing home Takahara's pass three minutes from time.

Takahara opened his Urawa account with a double in Saturday's 4-0 win at Kyoto Sanga, and Engels was delighted that his strikers have hit their stride.

"I am very happy about this," said Engels. "I always say it doesn't matter who scores, but of course I am happy if these guys score. They were typical goals from Edmilson."

"We didn't expect that quality from Sapporo in the first half because from a few chances they got two goals. But they opened the game up in front and tried to press our defenders a little bit more. We had more space behind the forwards and the midfielders."

Edmilson said, "We need to score at home so I'm pleased. The link-up play (with Takahara) was good in the last game and I think we are getting better with each game."

In other matches, Fernandinho and Shinji Okazaki were on target as Shimizu S-Pulse ran out 2-0 winners at Kashiwa Reysol while local rivals Jubilo Iwata won by the same scoreline at home to Kyoto Sanga courtesy of first-half goals from Makoto Tanaka and Norihiro Nishi.

FC Tokyo won 1-0 at home to Oita Trinita, who finished the game with nine men, and Albirex Niigata were held 0-0 at home to Tokyo Verdy.



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