07.06.2015 15:11 h

Celebrations put on hold for Japan's Reds

Urawa Reds will have to wait until after Japan's international break to secure the J-League first-stage title despite a 1-0 win over Shimizu S-Pulse on Sunday.

Shinzo Kuroki's clinical finish seven minutes into the second half gave Urawa the points but their celebrations were put on ice after champions Gamba Osaka kept the championship race alive -- if only mathematically.

Gamba, who reeled in Urawa in last year's title run-in and captured a domestic treble, were held to a goalless draw at Vissel Kobe as sharp-shooter Takashi Usami had a rare off-day.

Watched by 44,000 in Saitama, the table-topping Reds improved to 37 points from 15 games with two rounds remaining after preserving their unbeaten record. Gamba occupy fourth spot with 28 points having played one game fewer.

Urawa, the country's best-supported side, can clinch the title on June 20 when the J-League resumes following Japan's home friendly with Iraq this week and the June 16 World Cup qualifier against Singapore.

"Last season when we were battling for the title we couldn't kill of matches, even when we were playing well," Reds manager Mihailo Petrovic told reporters. "Today we didn't play that well but we found a way to win. That's down to experience."

Urawa's victory meant Sanfrecce Hiroshima and FC Tokyo will not have to channel their energies into the J-League second stage.

Hiroshima won 3-2 at Kashiwa Reysol to stay second on 30 points, while Tokyo beat promoted Matsumoto Yamaga 2-1 away and have 29 points.