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Sunday, Nov. 30, 2003

F. Marinos clinch title

Only second team to claim two-stage double

YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) Japan striker Tatsuhiko Kubo scored an injury-time winner as 10-man Yokohama F. Marinos came from behind to beat defending champion Jubilo Iwata 2-1 at home to clinch the second stage of the J. League on Saturday and become only the second team to win a two-stage double.

News photo
Tatsuhiko Kubo (far right) of the F. Marinos celebrates with his teammates after scoring the game-winning goal in injury time to lift Yokohama over Jubilo Iwata 2-1 at International Stadium Yokohama on Saturday.

In the most dramatic climax to a title race in the history of the J. League, Kubo headed home in the dying seconds but first-stage winner Yokohama only captured the title after Kashima Antlers were held 2-2 away to Urawa Reds by an even later goal from Brazilian striker Emerson.

The second-stage trophy appeared to be on its way to Kashima, which led 2-0 through goals from Japan midfielder Mitsuo Ogasawara and Takeshi Aoki, only for Emerson to score a last-gasp equalizer to hand Yokohama the double.

It was Yokohama's first second-stage triumph and fourth title overall. Jubilo was the first team to win both stages of a season last year.

"We gave it everything we had and the title is just reward for all our efforts," Yokohama manager Takeshi Okada said after the match.

Yokohama finished top of the table on goal difference ahead of JEF United Ichihara, which won 2-0 at Tokyo Verdy, and Iwata on 26 points from 15 games while Kashima had to settle for fourth.

At International Stadium Yokohama, Iwata went in front after just three minutes when Rodrigo Gral controlled a cross from the left from Aleksandar Zivkovic and rifled into the bottom left-hand corner of the net for his 21st goal of the season.

Yokohama saw its hopes of a comeback take a major blow when goalkeeper Tetsuya Enomoto was needlessly given his marching orders in the 16th minute.

Furious after Gral had attempted to block his drop kick, Enomoto raced out of his area and shoved the Brazilian to the ground, giving referee Toshimitsu Yoshida no option but to show the 20-year-old the red card.

Chances were at a premium in the rest of the opening period played in heavy rain although lanky striker Kubo missed a glorious chance to draw Yokohama level when his first-time shot come back off the post in the 34th minute after good work from Brazilian Marquinhos.

Marquinhos gave Yokohama hope six minutes into the second half when he headed home the equalizer from close range after a Dutra corner before Kubo sealed the win.

"This is just the best feeling in the world. We wouldn't have been able to achieve what we have accomplished without the great support our fans have given us," Kubo said.

Meanwhile, Oita Trinita guaranteed itself top-flight soccer for next year after with a 1-1 draw at home to Vegalta Sendai.

Sendai was relegated along with Kyoto Purple Sanga, which was hammered 5-1 at Gamba Osaka.

Nagoya Grampus Eight striker Ueslei finished top of the goal-scoring charts after netting his 22nd of the season in the 2-1 defeat at Shimizu S-Pulse while in other matches Cerezo Osaka won 4-0 at Vissel Kobe and FC Tokyo came from two goals down to win 4-2 at Kashiwa Reysol.



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