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Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2003

Marinos taken to brink

YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) J. League champion Yokohama F. Marinos needed a penalty shootout to overcome 10-man Ichiritsu Funabashi High School in the third round of the Emperor's Cup on Sunday.

Yokohama, which this season became only the second team to capture a two-stage league double, looked to be on its way to a comfortable victory after racing into 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Sotaro Yasunaga and Ryuji Kawai in the first six minutes.

But Japan youth champion Funabashi, aiming to become the first high-school team to make the fourth round of the competition, fought back bravely as captain Tatsuya Masushima reduced the deficit on 69 minutes and Kota Tanaka made it 2-2 with six minutes of normal time remaining.

Funabashi almost snatched victory when substitute Toru Kotobuki hit the bar in the dying seconds before Masushima went from hero to villain when he was sent off for his second bookable offense.

The Chiba Prefecture school held out in extra time despite being a man down, but Yokohama goalkeeper Kenichi Shimokawa stopped spot-kicks from Kenta Nakamura and Kodai Watanabe before Kazuki Sato converted to spare manager Takeshi Okada's blushes and send Yokohama into the last 16.

Elsewhere, Nabisco Cup winner Urawa Reds were upset 2-1 at home to second division Shonan Bellmare while Emperor's Cup holder Kyoto Purple Sanga and Vegalta Sendai both relegated to the second division also fell at the first hurdle.

Kyoto lost 2-0 at home to newly promoted Sanfrecce Hiroshima while Sendai was beaten 2-1 at home to Albirex Niigata, which will also be playing in the top flight next year, in front of the day's biggest crowd of 15,716.

Jubilo Iwata eased past semi-pro side Sagawa Express 2-0 while Kashima Antlers needed a golden goal to see off second division Avispa Fukuoka 3-2.

Emerson honored

YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) Urawa Reds' Brazilian striker Emerson, who helped the Saitama club win its first-ever title in this season's Nabisco Cup final, was named J. League Player of the Year on Monday.

The jet-heeled 22-year-old, recently linked with a move to Spanish powerhouse Barcelona, scored 18 goals in 25 league appearances this season and also struck a double to lift Japan's most passionately supported club to a 4-0 win over Kashima Antlers in last month's Nabisco final.

Yokohama F. Marinos manager and former Japan national team coach Takeshi Okada won the Manager of the Year honor after guiding his team to a two-stage league double in his first season in charge.

Nagoya Grampus Eight striker Ueslei won the Golden Boot award after finishing top of the J. League scoring charts with 22 goals.

Yokohama and Japan Under-22 defender Daisuke Nasu won the Rookie of the Year award while four players, including Kashima Antlers goalkeeper Hitoshi Sogahata, received fair play awards.

Japan striker Tatsuhiko Kubo, who scored a dramatic last-ditch winner against Iwata in the final game of the second stage to seal the championship, was among four Yokohama players named to the J. League XI for the 2003 season.



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