Urawa win despite fan racism scandal
Urawa Red Diamonds beat J-League champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2-0 on Saturday, appearing unscathed on the pitch despite fans being embroiled in a racism scandal.
The J-League on Thursday ruled that Urawa must play it`s next home game -- against Shimizu S-Pulse on March 23 -- in an empty stadium, unprecedented punishment after fans hoisted a "Japanese only" banner at a league game last week.
Urawa officials reacted by indefinitely banning all the club`s supporters from displaying banners at home and away games with immediate effect.
But goals from Shinzo Koroki and Genki Haraguchi brightened the team`s mood on Saturday, as Urawa condemned two-time champions Sanfrecce to their first defeat of the season.
"A lot of things have happened this week, but all we could do was try to get on with our football," said Urawa`s Serbian manager, Mihailo Petrovic.
Sanfrecce`s defeat leaves Yokohama F Marinos and Kashima Antlers as the only teams with perfect records three games into the season.
Marinos beat promoted Tokushima Vortis 3-0 and Antlers ended Sagan Tosu`s unbeaten start with a 3-0 win. Both Antlers and last season`s runners-up Marinos have yet to concede a goal.
"The team is functioning very well at the moment and the players are working well together," said Marinos manager Yasuhiro Higuchi.
Uruguay striker Diego Forlan was left waiting for his first J-League goal despite playing in Cerezo Osaka`s 4-1 win over S-Pulse, while late strikes from Kosuke Kikuchi and Cho Young-Cheol gave Omiya Ardija a remarkable 4-3 turnaround over Kawasaki Frontale.
Australia striker Josh Kennedy was on target as Nagoya Grampus beat Kashiwa Reysol 1-0, and Vissel Kobe edged FC Tokyo 2-1.
In the day`s other games, Ventforet Kofu drew 1-1 with Albirex Niigata, and Vegalta Sendai and Gamba Osaka played out a 0-0 stalemate