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Sunday, June 27, 2004
More glory for F. Marinos
Beat Antlers 1-0, win third straight stage title
YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) Yokohama F. Marinos made history on Saturday as the reigning J. League champions clinched the first-stage title on the final day of action with a 1-0 victory over 10-man Kashima Antlers.
In-form South Korean striker Ahn Jung Hwan scored the decisive goal with a clinical finish from the edge of the box in the 62nd minute at International Stadium Yokohama, as Takeshi Okada's side became the first team to win three consecutive stage titles.
Yokohama, which claimed a two-stage double on the final day of last season's campaign, after a stoppage-time win over Jubilo Iwata, finished on 36 points from 15 matches, two clear of Iwata in the 16-team standings.
"We might have won three straight titles, but what pleases me most is the fact that we have had a tough season but managed to finish with the most points after 15 games," F. Marinos coach Okada said after the match.
"I told the players at halftime just to make sure we get a goal in the next 45 minutes and they really came through for me," he added.
Yokohama failed to impress in the first half in stamina-draining conditions and its best chance came when Ahn tested Hitoshi Sogahata with a fierce shot in the 16th minute, after the home side had survived an early scare.
Moments earlier, Koji Nakata had broken free on the left flank and whipped over a cross for Akira Narashi, but the former Japan defender failed to connect cleanly after arriving unmarked in the box.
Kashima continued to carve out the better opportunities but lacked composure in front of goal.
Tomoyuki Hirase saw a header flash wide and he set up Toru Araiba in the dying seconds of the first half only for the former Gamba Osaka man to let the chance go begging.
But with less than a minute of the second half gone Masashi Motoyama was sent off for his second bookable offense after a foul on Yokohama 'keeper Tatsuya Enomoto.
Yokohama made its numerical advantage pay when substitute Daisuke Oku fed Ahn rifled the ball inside the right-hand post, giving Sogahata no chance.
Meanwhile, Rodrigo Gral scored twice as Iwata came from behind to beat Sanfrecce Hiroshima 4-2 at home.
Alessandro Santos scored the winner as Urawa Reds claimed third place with a 2-1 win over FC Tokyo.
In other games, Japan striker Keiji Tamada grabbed a hat trick as lowly Kashiwa Reysol walloped last-place Cerezo Osaka 5-1 away.
A double from Masashi Oguro helped Cerezo's neighbor Gamba Osaka to a 4-1 win at Albirex Niigata, while Nagoya Grampus Eight was held 2-2 at home to Kobe.
JEF United Ichihara drew 1-1 with Shimizu S-Pulse, while 10-man Tokyo Verdy beat Oita Trinita 3-1.
Shimizu manager quits
Brazilian Antonio has stepped down as manager of struggling Shimizu S-Pulse after a string of disappointing results and will be replaced by head coach Nobuhiro Ishizaki, the J. League first-division side said Saturday.
The 65-year-old former Kashiwa Reysol boss said that Shimizu's poor form had left him "mentally exhausted" and that he wants to return to Brazil to look after his aging father.