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Thursday, Aug. 7, 2003

'Baggio of the Orient' sparkles in his return to Yokohama

YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) Japan midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura produced a sparkling display against his former employer as Italian Serie A club Reggina defeated newly-crowned J. League first-stage champion Yokohama F. Marinos 2-1 in a friendly on Wednesday evening.

News photo
Reggina midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura unleashes a pass during an exhibition match against his former team, Yokohama F.Marinos, at International Stadium Yokohama.

The 25-year-old playmaker had a hand in the winner scored by Emiliano Bonazzoli after a Daisuke Oku penalty had canceled out Roberto Stellone's 15th-minute opener in stamina-draining conditions at International Stadium Yokohama.

Nakamura, who joined Reggina last summer and scored seven times in helping the southern Italian side narrowly avoid relegation, was given a rousing reception by the 54,335 fans who turned out to welcome him back to his old stomping ground, many clad in Reggina's claret jerseys.

Dubbed the "Baggio of the Orient" by the Italian press, the deadball specialist responded with a typically elegant performance and went agonizingly close to hitting the target on a number of occasions.

"I tried really hard to please the fans as I didn't want them to think my level had dropped since going to Italy," Nakamura joked after the game. "The Marinos' level has improved a lot and it took me a bit by surprise," he added.

Yokohama goalkeeper Tetsuya Enomoto beat away a swerving Nakamura free-kick from the right in the eighth minute before Reggina took the lead as Stellone calmly slotted home after a neat pass from Davide Baiocco.

Nakamura went close to doubling the visitors lead in the 27th minute as he swiveled to crash a left-footed shot off the cross bar. The rebound fell to Bonazzoli but the former Parma forward fired just wide.

Yokohama was missing a number of key players with Japan defender Naoki Matsuda involved in this weekend's All-Star match in Sapporo and Yuji Nakazawa and first choice goalkeeper Tatsuya Enomoto injured.

Nursing a sore back, star striker Tatsuhiko Kubo was rested on the bench and the home side did not test Reggina goalkeeper Emanuele Bellardi until the 33rd minute when he got down smartly to his left to push away a fierce shot from Brazilian Marquinhos.

Four minutes before the interval Yokohama drew level. Gianluca Fallsini brought down Yukihiko Sato and Japan midfielder Daisuke Oku sent Bellardi the wrong way from the penalty spot.

Reggina started the second half brightly and earned a free-kick just outside the penalty area that brought a roar of anticipation from the crowd and Nakamura stepped up to drive his shot a whisker past the post.

Reggina's winner came on the hour as Nakamura embarked on weaving run and fed substitute David Di Michele, who tied the Yokohama defense in knots before setting up Bonazzoli to tap home from close range.

Turkish fan killed

ISTANBUL (AP) One fan was killed and dozens of others were injured amid fighting at a Turkish soccer match, an official said Wednesday.

The fighting broke out between fans of Karsiyaka and Goztepe, two rival second division clubs from the Aegean port city of Izmir, before a practice match Tuesday, said Halil Tatas, Izmir's police chief. Fans threw stones, stabbed each other, and beat each other with sticks, Tatas said.

The tension spilled over into the stadium and Murat Kongu, 23, was stabbed and died at a local hospital.

Tatas said Kongu was stabbed by a fellow Karsiyaka fan and police have detained five people suspected of involvement in his death.

Dozens of fans and seven police officers were reported injured in fighting before, during, and after the match, in which the two Izmir clubs drew 1-1.



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