Reds close in on Japanese title with Yokohama win
Urawa Reds overcame their recent wobbles to conjure a 1-0 win against Yokohama F-Marinos on Monday, leaving them one victory away from capturing a second Japanese title.
Japan's best-supported club now lead second-placed Gamba Osaka by five points with three matches remaining, although the two teams clash at Urawa's Saitama Stadium on November 22 after the international break in a potential championship decider.
With both teams suffering from vertigo in recent weeks, it was left to 19-year-old Takahiro Sekine to snaffle the three points for Urawa, the substitute smashing home the winner 11 minutes from time to silence a crowd of 40,000 in Yokohama.
The Reds improved to 61 points from 31 games, within touching distance of their first J-League crown since 2006. Urawa have failed to win any silverware since lifting the Asian Champions League trophy in 2007.
"I caught it flush," Sekine told reporters when asked about his precious winner. "But I don't remember much else. I'm just glad it went in. All the cameras and pitchside interviews made me so nervous I don't even know what I was saying."
Reds manager Mihailo Petrovic added: "Now we have three weeks to prepare for the Gamba game. Not winning today would have put us under a lot of pressure when Gamba visit but we were very patient and showed a lot of resilience."
Gamba's title hopes were seriously dented when they were held to a 1-1 draw at home by lowly Vegalta Sendai on Sunday.