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Sunday, March 7, 2004

Sweet revenge for Jubilo in Xerox Super Cup

Former Japan defender Toshihiro Hattori gave Jubilo Iwata a victory over defending J. League champion Yokohama F. Marinos on Saturday afternoon with a 4-2 penalty shootout decision in the Xerox Super Cup.

News photo
Yoshiharu Ueno (left) of the Yokohama F. Marinos battles for the ball with Jubilo's Toshihiro Hattori during first-half action in the Xerox Super Cup on Saturday at Tokyo's National Stadium. Jubilo won 4-2 in a shootout after the match ended 1-1.

Takashi Fukunishi went from villain to hero for Iwata with a late equalizer in normal time in the J. League curtain-raiser, before Hattori scored the decisive goal from the spot, as Iwata erased the painful memory of losing out on the J. League second-stage title in injury time to Takeshi Okada's men last season.

Fukunishi conceded a 65th-minute penalty, which Daisuke Oku calmly dispatched to put Yokohama in front, but made amends by turning the ball home to level in the 86th minute at National Stadium.

The match went straight to penalties and Fukunishi missed again in the shootout but Hideto Suzuki, Hiroshi Nanami and Hattori all converted their chances to give Iwata its second consecutive Xerox title.

"The players were really gutted about losing (the second stage title) to Yokohama last year so today's result is nice for them and will give them confidence for this season," Iwata coach Takashi Kuwahara said.

Oku broke a scoreless tie when he scored from the spot after national teammate Fukunishi had bundled over Akihiro Endo inside the box.

Iwata almost hit back immediately through last season's top marksman Rodrigo Gral but the Brazilian's free-kick was well saved by Tatsuya Enomoto.

Gral again forced Enomoto into action off another free-kick in the 84th minute, as Iwata pressed for an equalizer and it was finally rewarded for the efforts when Fukunishi nipped in to poke home Gral's pass at the near post.

Japan blanks UAE

ABU DHABI (Kyodo) Japan's Under-23s took a major stride toward this year's Athens Olympics with a late 2-0 win over the United Arab Emirates in the final round of action in Asian zone qualifiers on Friday.

Japan rode its luck for long periods of the Group B match, but substitute Daiki Takamatsu grabbed the opener in the 85th minute, and Tatsuya Tanaka gave Japan all three points two minutes later.



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