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Sunday, June 13, 2004

SOCCER

F. Marinos stay in chase with win over Vissel

KOBE (Kyodo) The defending champion Yokohama F. Marinos kept the pressure on leader Jubilo Iwata after a comfortable 2-0 win away to Vissel Kobe on Saturday as J. League first-stage action resumed after a three-week break for national team games.

News photo
Nagoya Grampus Eight's Yutaka Akita battles the Urawa Reds' Tatsuya Tanaka for the ball during first-half action in their J. League first-division match on Saturday at Toyota Stadium. Grampus Eight won 3-0.

South Korea striker Ahn Jung Hwan opened the scoring after 21 minutes with a stunning 25-meter drive and had a hand in the second that was tucked in from close range by midfielder Yoshiharu Ueno.

Kobe 'keeper Fumiya Iwamaru, who had earlier denied Ueno with a smart reaction save, could only parry another stinging shot from Ahn, leaving Ueno with the simple task of tapping into an empty net nine minutes before halftime.

Vissel's J. League record-signing Ilhan Mansiz made his comeback from a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a knee injury when he came on as a second-half substitute, but the Turkey striker was unable to make an impact.

Jubilo remained in pole position in the standings on 30 points, three clear of Yokohama with three games left to play, after a late strike from Norihiro Nishi gave Iwata a hard-earned 3-2 win at home to JEF United Ichihara.

Missing suspended star striker Rodrigo Gral, Iwata went behind when Brazilian Marquinhos stabbed home a cross from Shinji Murai in the 16th minute, before Japan Olympic team striker Ryoichi Maeda leveled with a stooping header.

Former Japan midfielder Hiroshi Nanami put Iwata in front with a trademark free-kick only for Ichihara to snatch an equalizer when substitute Kohei Kudo's shot squirmed under the body of Iwata 'keeper Yohei Sato for his first J. League goal.

But Nishi ensured 2002 league champion Iwata a precious three points to keep it on course for the title with a well-taken effort three minutes from time.

Elsewhere, the Urawa Reds' hopes of a first title were effectively ended after a 3-0 defeat away to Nagoya Grampus Eight, while Lucas scored twice in FC Tokyo's 2-1 win over Gamba Osaka.

Urawa had Japan defender Keisuke Tsuboi sent off late in the first half and Nagoya made its numerical advantage pay as Naoshi Nakamura (twice) and Tetsuya Okayama both found the target. Urawa is nine points behind Iwata in the table.

In Saturday's evening fixtures, Kashiwa Reysol played out a 0-0 draw against Shimizu S-Pulse while a 33rd-minute strike from Fabinho was enough to give Albirex Niigata a 1-0 win away to 10-man Oita Trinita.

Miyamoto sidelined

OSAKA (Kyodo) Gamba Osaka defender Tsuneyasu Miyamoto is expected to miss the next three weeks after undergoing surgery for appendicitis, officials of the J. League first-division side said Saturday.



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