Football: Reds Finish Top In Japan - But No Cigar Yet

Football: Reds finish top in Japan - but no cigar yet

TOKYO, Nov 3, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 03rd Nov, 2016 ) - Urawa Reds secured top spot in the J-League overall standings after a 1-1 home draw with Yokohama F-Marinos on Thursday, keeping alive their hopes of a domestic treble. The former Asian champions finished with 74 points over the season's two stages, two more than Kawasaki Frontale, who blew a two-goal advantage in a 3-2 home defeat by Gamba Osaka. The Reds also booked their spot in the J-league championship final, held over two legs on November 29 and December 3, with the winners qualifying for the lucrative FIFA Club World Cup next month.

Kawasaki and first-stage winners Kashima Antlers face each other in a one-off semi-final on November 23. Midfielder Yosuke Kashiwagi fired the Reds into the lead with a smart finish after 67 minutes, only for Curacao forward Martinus to silence a holiday crowd of 56,000 with a late equaliser. "Give the players credit," said Urawa manager Mihailo Petrovic, who has already led his team to the J-League Cup title this season. "It's a great achievement to finish top but we're not champions yet.

" Kawasaki looked like overhauling the Reds at one stage until they leaked three goals in the space of 11 minutes after the break in a topsy-turvy game. At the other end of the table, Nagoya Grampus were relegated from the J-League's top flight for the first time after crashing to a 3-1 defeat at home to Shonan Bellmare, who themselves were already doomed to second-tier football next year. Nagoya's perilous situation became stark reality after another dreadful performance by a team once managed by Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger and boasting marquee players such as former England striker Gary Lineker. Elsewhere, Vegalta Sendai were beaten 1-0 at home by Jubilo Iwata while another northern club, Albirex Niigata, lost by the same scoreline to visiting Sanfrecce Hiroshima.