Abe header sends Urawa top in J-League
Urawa Red Diamonds midfielder Yuki Abe (L) celebrates with his teammates Tomoaki Makino (C) and Shinzoh Kohrogi (R) during a Champions League match in Tokyo on April 24, 2013 - by Jiji Press
Former Leicester City midfielder Yuki Abe headed home in the 79th minute Saturday as Urawa took advantage of a slip-up by previous leaders Kashima Antlers, who lost 1-0 away to Kashiwa Reysol earlier in the day.
Urawa, who were earlier this season handed an unprecedented one-match supporter ban for a racist banner displayed by their fans, moved one point clear after 11 games with only two points separating the top six teams.
"It was a very even, very hard tactical battle and we had to maintain our concentration until the end," said Urawa manager Mihailo Petrovic.
"When you look at what happened in the game, a draw probably would have been fair, but I'm happy we got the win."
Reysol striker Masato Kudo scored on the stroke of half-time to sink Antlers, who dropped to second ahead of Sagan Tosu and defending champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima on goal difference.
Sagan beat Shimizu S-Pulse 1-0 thanks to a first-half goal from Naoyuki Fujita, while Sanfrecce drew 0-0 with Vissel Kobe, who slipped to fifth place ahead of Reysol on goal difference.
Elsewhere in the J-League, Uruguay striker Diego Forlan scored the 78th-minute winner to end Cerezo Osaka's six-game winless run with a 2-1 victory over Nagoya Grampus.
Yokohama F Marinos beat Gamba Osaka 2-0 to pick up their first win in eight games, struggling Vegalta Sendai claimed just their second victory of the season after dispatching hapless Tokushima Vortis 1-0, while Kawasaki Frontale brushed past Ventforet Kofu 2-0.
In the day's other game, Omiya Ardija and Albirex Niigata drew 2-2.
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