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Sunday, April 11, 2004

Jubilo stays on top with win at Cerezo

OSAKA (Kyodo) High-flying Jubilo Iwata maintained its flawless start to the season with a 2-1 win away to struggling Cerezo Osaka in the J. League first division on Saturday.

News photo
Yoshito Okubo of Cerezo Osaka falls over the ball during Saturday's game against Jubilo Iwata at Nagai Stadium. Jubilo wom 2-1.

Unbeaten in all competitions this season and currently leading its group in the Asian Champions League, Jubilo notched its fourth straight win courtesy of first-half goals from Hiroshi Nanami and Brazilian striker Rodrigo Gral.

Takashi Kuwahara's men are three points clear of JEF United Ichihara at the top of the table. Ichihara came from behind to defeat 10-man Kashima Antlers 2-1 in Saturday's evening game. Gamba Osaka is in third, another point behind.

Kashima had goalkeeper Hitoshi Sogahata sent off after 34 minutes but Mitsuo Ogasawara finished off a slick move to give the victors the lead after 61 minutes.

Brazilian striker Sandro struck in the 73rd minute to level the scores and hit the winner eight minutes from time when he poked a mishit shot into an empty net at the far post.

At Nagai Stadium, Iwata took the lead after 16 minutes when former Japan midfielder Nanami scored his first goal of the season with a stunning free-kick from just outside the box.

In-form striker Gral, who scored the winner against Shanghai Shenhua in their Champions League clash midweek, put Iwata firmly in command after 24 minutes when he slotted home a quickly worked free-kick from Norihiro Nishi.

Yosihito Okubo, who helped Japan's Under-23s secure their ticket to Athens in the Asian qualifiers, stabbed home a back heel from Akinori Nishizawa 17 minutes from time but Cerezo was unable to make any further inroads and is now the only team in the division without a single point.

Elsewhere, Daisuke Oku scored twice as defending champion Yokohama F. Marinos bounced back from Wednesday's Champions League defeat to Seongnam Ilhwa by sweeping aside Albirex Niigata 3-1 away.

Fellow Japan international Alessandro Santos opened his account for Urawa Reds from the penalty spot to put them on their way to a 2-1 win at home to Vissel Kobe, while Tokyo Verdy picked up its first point thanks to a 74th-minute header from Argentine defender Claudio Ubeda in the 2-2 draw with Gamba Osaka. Oita Trinita beat Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2-1.

Reds to play Inter

SAITAMA (Kyodo) Urawa Reds will play Italian powerhouse Inter Milan in an international friendly this summer, officials of the J. League first division club said Saturday.

Guido Buchwald's men will take on the Serie A side at Saitama Stadium 2002 on July 27.



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