0 Min: Today’s live blog covers the contest at the Saitama Stadium between Urawa Red Diamonds and Yokohama F-Marinos. The Reds will be looking to close the gap at the top of the table to four points after Vegalta Sendai were held to a 1-1 draw against Sagan Tosu earlier today, and they can move into sole ownership of second position following Sanfrecce’s 1-0 defeat at the Big Arch by Jubilo Iwata. The Reds will be confident of a positive result following an unbeaten start to the season at their home ground, but they should be wary of a Marinos side which could be a more difficult proposition than their league position suggests. Fifteenth position runs counter to the number of chances they have created in the J.League this season, and Matchday Eight finally saw a team marry finishing ability to their wit and invention in attack, putting three past Vissel Kobe. I’ll be bringing you team news very shortly.
0 Min: Urawa Red Diamonds – Kato; Tsuboi, Nagata, Makino; Hirakawa, Suzuki, Abe, Umesaki, Kashiwagi; Marcio Richardes, Popo
Substitutes – Yamagishi; Hamada; Takahashi, Ugajin, Kojima; Haraguchi, Despotovic
0 Min: Yokohama F-Marinos – Iikura; Kobayashi, Kurihara, Nakazawa, Dutra; Kumagai, Hyodo, Nakamura, Saito; Ono, Oguro
Substitutes – Rokutan; Aoyama, Kanai; Taniguchi, Kano; Moriya, Marquinhos
0 Min: The players are in the tunnel and just about ready to come out on the pitch on a mild and cloudly evening at the Saitama Stadium, though there may be some showers during the course of a match which will be officiated by Toshimitsu Yoshida. Kick-off is scheduled for 11:04 BST/19:04 JST, so we’re just six minutes from the start of this game.
0 Min: The teams are led out on to the pitch by their respective captains, for the Reds Yuki Abe, and his counterpart at the Marinos, Shunsuke Nakamura.
0 Min: Yoshida blows his whistle, and the game is underway in Saitama.
1 Min: Yosuke Kashiwagi has an early sighter for the Reds, collecting a pass to the left edge of the penalty area, but it’s a couple of yards wide of Nobuhiro Kato’s left upright.
3 Mins: Very calm and collected in the Reds backline, happily exchanging passes between goalkeeper and defenders, Yuki Nakazawa bringing the ball out of defence.
5 Mins: Dutra and Manabu Saito exchange passes on the left-wing, leading to a throw in, and while Dutra’s cross is blocked, he’s pulled down by Yosuke Kashiwagi. Shunsuke Nakamura is over a ball which is to the left edge of the penalty area.
5 Mins: Nakamura’s whipped cross is too close to Iikura, who punches strongly away.
7 Mins: Marcio Richardes wins a corner for the Reds, which he will take.
7 Mins: Tomoaki Makino should have given the home side an early lead. The corner is delivered to the edge of the six yard area, and a completely unmarked Makino heads over the bar.
9 Mins: The Marinos break quickly after catching Hirakawa in possession, and as the right-sided player is out of position, Oguro has time and space to deliver a cross which is headed behind for a corner, and a waiting Ono is disappointed that he wasn’t found.
10 Mins: Nakamura’s left-footed corner clears several players and bounces in front of Hirakawa, who is fortunate to see his header clear the bar for a corner.
11 Mins: GOAL! Nakamura’s cross is deep and Hirakawa’s defensive header only reaches the edge of the penalty area. Manabu Saito controls before arrowing a volley into the net from 20 yards, Hirakawa unable to make up the distance to atone for his poor clearance as the ball sails past him and leaves Kato stranded.
11 Mins: Urawa Red Diamonds 0 Yokohama F-Marinos 1
16 Mins: Forwards Yuji Ono and Masashi Oguro are doing sterling work in defense for Yokohama F-Marinos, pressing high up the field, but the Reds are patient in possession and eventually find a way through to their midfield.
17 Mins: Andrew Kumagai is booked for a challenge from behind on Marcio Richardes, giving away a free-kick thirty yards from Iikura’s goal. Richardes may well fancy testing Iikura from distance.
18 Mins: Kashiwagi is also over the ball, but Richardes strikes. He lofts the ball over the wall, but it’s twelve inches to the right of Iikura’s right post, and the goalkeeper most likely had Richardes’ effort covered.
20 Mins: Popo is strong in possession, staying on his feet under a number of challenges, until Yuzo Kurihara charges into the forward and gives away another set piece in a dangerous position. This is slightly closer than the previous opportunity, roughly 25 yards out.
21 Mins: Richardes swings the ball over the wall but also over the bar, as he wastes his free-kick.
25 Mins: The Marinos seem quite content to soak up Reds pressure and to try to quickly counter. The Reds have created little, and to this point are routinely misplacing passes.
26 Mins: Manabu Saito does very well on the left-wing, beating Hirakawa for strength and dribbling into the penalty area, but his pull back in the 18-yard area doesn’t find the waiting Oguro.
33 Mins: The last few minutes have descended into a fairly scrappy affair, neither side able to string a sequence of passes together, and the five man-midfield of Urawa Red Diamonds is not outmatching what is a regular 4-4-2 for the away side.
38 Mins: I am deeply sorry to report that the broadcast for this match appears to have failed. I hope to bring you the latest action from the match very soon.
42 Mins: Having found an alternative broadcast, the Reds have a free-kick on the Marinos goalline. Iikura scrambles the ball clear at the near post with Makino closing in.
45 Mins: There will be two minutes of added time at the end of what is predominantly an incident-free first half, Saito’s finish one of only two real moments of quality.
45 Mins+1: A long ball from defence finds Harikawa, who skips clear of Dutra’s challenge, but his low cross is poor and cleared.
45 Mins+2: Yoshida looks at his watch, and brings the first period to a close.
HT: Urawa Red Diamonds 0 Yokohama F-Marinos 1
45 Mins: The second-half begin with Urawa having made a change at the break. Yosuke Kashiwagi, who was one of several poor performers in the first period, caught both in possession and giving the ball away all too frequently, has been replaced by Genki Haraguchi.
50 Mins: Manabu Saito draws into the penalty area from the left, but he’s surrounded by several Reds players and unable to get his shot away. Marcio Richardes, expecting a throw-in to be given on the wing, simply allowed Saito to run past him rather than challenging, putting pressure on Keisuke Tsuboi who fared admirably in forcing Saito into the crowd of defenders.
51 Mins:Shunsuke Nakamura has a free-kick from 30 yards away, wide right, but his curling left-footed shot is several feet clear of the bar.
52 Mins: Uguro is sent clear down the right channel by a 30 yard pass from the boot of Suzuki, but Yuki Abe covers well as the striker shoots, and it is deflected into the hands of Nobuhiro Kato.
54 Mins: Shuto Kojima is the second substitute for the Reds, Keita Suzuki making way.
57 Mins: A refereeing decision that is as poor as much of the play has been, as Yokohama are denied a clear penalty. Oguro plays a lovely through ball to the penalty area to Yuji Ono, and as he attempts to dance around Tomoaki Makino, the defender twices uses his arm to take the opportunity away from the forward. A terrible failure of judgement from Yoshida.
59 Mins: A Nakamura corner is beautifully flighted to the penalty spot, and Kurihara just can’t direct his header on target.
62 Mins: The Reds have two corners in quick succession, but are defended well by the Marinos.
63 Mins: Popo’s foot is trodden on outside the penalty area, and while it is an infringement, his reaction to the challenge is as ridiculous as it is exaggerated.
64 Mins: The set piece, 25 yards away, brings interest from Richardes and Makino, and it is the former who slams the ball into the wall. Poor again from the attackind midfielder.
65 Mins: The Marinos break quickly down the right-hand side as the set piece opportunity disipated, and as the cross is pulled back to the edge of the penalty area, Shingo Hyodo rifles a shot which Kato pushes over his crossbar.
67 Mins: A poor challenge from Nakazawa gives the Reds a further opportunity from a free-kick. It’s 35 yards away, which Popo strikes, and it deflects off the wall for a corner.
68 Mins: Richardes swings the ball in short of the near post, knocked for a second corner.
69 Mins: Iikura makes a mess of the cross which is right under his crossbar, but collects at the second attempt.
70 Mins: With twenty minutes remaining, the forward Ranko Despotovic is coming on for Keisuke Tsuboi. This invites a change from the Marinos, as Masashi Oguro leaves the field for Marquinhos.
73 Mins: A lovely exchange of passes on the left-wing between Dutra, Saito and Ono sees the latter release Saito on goal, but he is stumbling as he prods his effort straight at Kato, with Marquinhos free in the penalty area.
78 Mins: GOAL! Failure to take their chances – and equally the failure of the referee to award an obvious penalty – sees the scores level. Tomoaki Makino receives a pass from Tsukasa Umesaki, and with one touch and a drop of the shoulder he beats Andrew Kumagai before shaping a lovely right-footed shot into the top right corner from 18 yards.
78 Mins: Urawa Red Diamonds 1 Yokohama F-Marinos 1
80 Mins: Urawa are finishing the more strongly. Genki Haraguchi cleverly wins a corner for his side, a sliding challenge deflecting off a Marinos defender.
82 Mins: The ball flashes across the six-yard area from the corner, but no Reds player is on hand to push the ball home.
84 Mins: Taniguchi, on for Kumagai just after the equalising goal, wins a corner for Marinos. The Reds can’t clear the ball, but after two fierce crosses from Nakamura, one with his right foot, he eventually decides to shoot from 22 yards, which is wide of the angle.
85 Mins: Marcio Richardes brings down Saito 30 yards from Kato’s goal. Nakamura and Hyodo are over the ball, and a Nakamura piledriver is inches wide of the top right corner. So close for Marinos.
87 Mins: Marquinhos this time tries from distance, and his bending shot requires a strong hand from Kato to force it over the bar.
88 Mins: GOAL! The resulting corner is perfectly placed from Nakamura, who finds Marquinhos at the back post. Captain Yuki Abe had allowed the forward to step behind him and afforded him a run on goal, Abe’s body position making his leap backwards insufficient to head the ball away, and the forward’s powerful downward header can’t be stopped by Kato. Thoroughly deserved for the Yokohama side.
88 Mins: Urawa Red Diamonds 1 Yokohama F-Marinos 2
90 Mins: There will be four minutes of additional time to be played.
90 Mins: A corner in stoppage time for the Reds which the Marinos eventually deal with. Haraguchi subsequently whips a cross which Richardes seemingly handles, but although his touch finds Mitsuru Nagata, the central defender snatches at the opportunity, slicing wide of the right post.
90 Mins+2: The final substitution of the match. Shunsuke Nakamura exits play for Takashi Kanai.
90 Mins+3 Desperately seeking an equalising goal, the Reds are unable to gain possession, Marinos taking the ball into the corners to run down the clock.
90 Mins+4: Umesaki takes a free-kick long which Despotovic heads on, but the Marinos defence deals with the danger and win a free-kick.
90 Mins+5: As Iikura sends a clearance long downfield, Yoshida blows his whistle to end the match, and the Marinos are out of the bottom three having won back-to-back matches for the first time in 2012. The Reds failed to narrow the gap on leaders Vegalta Sendai and on the basis of this performance nor would they have deserved to, outfought and out-thought in all areas of the pitch.
FT: Urawa Red Diamonds 1 Yokohama F-Marinos 2
FT: Thank you for joining me. A full match report will be on the site on Friday 4 May.