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Monday, Aug. 30, 2004

J. LEAGUE

Urawa Reds stay perfect

SAITAMA (Kyodo) Makoto Hasebe snatched a last-minute winner as high-flying Urawa Reds maintained their perfect start to the second stage with a 3-2 win over faltering Jubilo Iwata in the J. League first division on Sunday.

The win kept Urawa top of the table while Gamba Osaka also made it three wins out of three after edging Shimizu S-Pulse 1-0 but defending champions Yokohama F. Marinos were handed their first defeat in 16 league matches after a 2-1 reverse at Nagoya Grampus Eight.

Brimming with confidence after last Saturday's 7-2 demolition of Tokyo Verdy, Urawa went in front after 16 minutes when Brazilian striker Emerson rifled home his 16th goal of the season and Nobuhisa Yamada doubled the lead with a strike from distance just after half an hour.

Ryoichi Maeda pulled one back for the visitors and Japan midfielder Norihiro Nishi looked to have done enough to give Jubilo a share of the spoils with an equalizer in the 82nd minute after teammate Takashi Fukunishi was sent off.

But Hasebe popped up with a clinical finish in the dying seconds to keep Urawa on track for its first ever league title and left 2002 champion Iwata still looking for its first win of the stage.

At Mizuho Stadium, Tatsuhiko Kubo celebrated his recall to the Japan national team for the upcoming World Cup qualifier against India by giving Yokohama the lead in the 13th minute but turned villain when he was sent off for his second bookable offense early in the second half.

Brazilian Marques responded for Nagoya in the 18th minute and compatriot Claiton sealed the points from close range midway through the second half.

Masashi Oguro's 12th goal of the season at Nihondaira Stadium proved decisive as Gamba preserved its 100 percent start while JEF United Ichihara climbed one place above Yokohama into third after a Marquhinos header gave it a 1-0 win at Kashima Antlers.

Elsewhere, Albirex Niigata held off a late comeback to win 4-3 at Vissel Kobe while an 89th-minute goal from Yohei Kajiyama gave FC Tokyo its first win of the stage after edging local rivals Verdy 1-0 at National Stadium.

Lowly Kashiwa Reysol picked up the first point of its second-stage campaign with a 2-2 draw at home to Sanfrecce Hiroshima while Oita Trinita ran out a 2-1 winner at Cerezo Osaka.



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