First-stage champions Urawa Reds were forced to work for a 2-1 win against promoted Matsumoto Yamaga on Saturday to preserve their unbeaten record in this season’s J-League. Goals from Yuki Muto and Shinzo Koroki secured the three points for last year’s Japanese runners-up in their second-stage opener as Yamaga played with a back six in a bid to frustrate the visitors. “It was a bit of a tap-in goal but it went in and that’s what counts,” Koroki told reporters. “But the fact we ground out the result shows the mental strength we have this season.” Meanwhile, 2014 champions and domestic treble winners Gamba Osaka needed a last-minute winner from Japan striker Takashi Usami to beat visiting Ventforet Kofu 2-1. Brazilian pair Elsinho and Renato were on target as Kawasaki Frontale opened the second half of the season with a 2-0 home win over FC Tokyo, who lacked a cutting edge in attack after they sold Japan international Yoshinori Muto […]

Japan’s Shimizu S-Pulse have signed marauding North Korea striker Jong Tae-Se in a bid to arrest their nose-diving form, the J-League club said on Thursday. Jong, 31, dubbed “the People’s Wayne Rooney” after helping North Korea reach the 2010 World Cup finals, previously played for Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale and has had spells at German sides Cologne and Bochum in a colourful career. “I would like to dedicate myself from here on to Shimizu S-Pulse,” Jong said after completing his move from South Korea’s Suwon Bluewings. “I will sacrifice myself and advance as one with the team. I want to carve the words ‘history’ and ‘honour’ into my heart and the hearts of the supporters.” Jong, who was born in Nagoya to Korean parents and issued with a North Korean passport by the communist state’s de facto embassy in Japan, scored 46 goals in 112 games after joining Kawasaki in 2006. He was less prolific in Germany but his goals and […]