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Sunday, April 20, 2003

Sendai grabs top spot

KOBE (Kyodo) Midfielder Toshiyuki Abe scored one and set up the other as Vegalta Sendai won 2-1 away at Vissel Kobe to move to the top of the J. League on Saturday.

The former Urawa Reds man sent over a cross from the left for Brazilian midfielder Silvinho to head home on 69 minutes and put the visitors firmly in control when he grabbed the second eight minutes from time.

Kunie Kitamoto gave Kobe a glimmer of hope when he pounced on a loose ball to reduce the arrears with three minutes remaining but it was too little, too late as Sendai held on to maintain its unbeaten start to the first stage.

The win moved Sendai top on 10 points from four games played although Yokohama F. Marinos can reclaim pole position with a win at home to Oita Trinita on Sunday.

Kashima Antlers got back to winning ways with a 1-0 victory over Tokyo Verdy, a 71st-minute header from Japan midfielder Koji Nakata enough to move the Kashima outfit into second on nine points.

Elsewhere, Brazilian Magrao rescued a point for Gamba Osaka as he completed his brace with a 90th-minute penalty in the 3-3 draw at home to JEF United Ichihara while Jubilo Iwata ran out a 2-0 winner over troubled Shimizu S-Pulse in the Shizuoka derby.

Iwata midfielder Toshiya Fujita scored a 66th-minute opener in front of 32,528 at Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa and created the second for Brazilian striker Rodrigo Gral four minutes later as Shimizu S-Pulse slipped to their third straight defeat and the foot of the table.

Urawa Reds climbed out of last place in the 16-team standings with a 2-0 win at home to Kyoto Purple Sanga, Brazilian forward Emerson and Keita Suzuki both finding the target as Hans Ooft's men registered their first win of the season.

At Ajinomoto Stadium, FC Tokyo were held to a 1-1 draw by Nagoya Grampus Eight, Naoshi Nakamura's goal on the hour canceling out Naohiro Ishikawa's 36th-minute opener for the home side.

Kashiwa Reysol welcome Cerezo Osaka in the only other fixture Sunday.



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