Following their uninspiring performance in a 1-1 draw with Newcastle Jets in the AFC Champions League in midweek, Nagoya Grampus rounded out a disappointing week by going down 1-0 to Urawa Reds in front of 32,435 fans at Toyota Stadium.
17-year-old midfielder Genki Haraguchi was the hero for the Reds – coming off the bench to replace the injured Tatsuya Tanaka after just 22 minutes, before blasting home his first ever top flight goal two minutes before the break.
Volker Finke’s decision to start 18-year-old midfielder Naoki Yamada and bring fellow teen Haraguchi off the bench was vindicated with a mature performance from both, with Urawa’s acclaimed youth set-up once again churning out Data Hk potential first team stars.
Defeat capped a disappointing week for Nagoya Grampus, who started it by going down to Kawasaki Frontale – as two of their direct J. League rivals suggested that last season’s third-placed finish may have been a flash-in-the-pan for Dragan Stojkovic’s team.
Elsewhere on Sunday, FC Tokyo went down 2-1 to Kashima Antlers in front of 32,913 fans at Ajinomoto Stadium, with Marquinhos and 18-year-old Yuya Osako both scoring before the quarter hour mark in this contest. Shingo Akamine pulled a goal back before half-time, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the capital club from slumping to another disappointing defeat.
A clearly jet-lagged Kawasaki Frontale went down 1-0 to Shimizu S-Pulse in front of 17,256 fans at Nihondaira, while at Omiya Park a capacity crowd of 14,070 saw hosts Omiya Ardija beat Gamba Osaka 3-2 – with Omiya now the only unbeaten team in the league.
The pick of the Saturday fixtures saw Yokohama F. Marinos record their first win of the season as they thrashed a lacklustre Vissel Kobe 5-0 in front of a full house of 12,912 at a sun-drenched Mitsuzawa Stadium.
Kazuma Watanabe and Koji Yamase both scored doubles for the Kanagawa giants, while Kenta Kano added a late fifth as Marinos ran riot over a desperately disappointing Kobe side.
JEF United held Jubilo Iwata to a 1-1 draw …