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Sunday, Sept. 5, 2004

Emerson fires Reds into Nabisco Cup semifinals

SAITAMA (Kyodo) Brazilian striker Emerson treated himself to an early birthday present with two goals as holders Urawa Reds came from behind to beat Yokohama F. Marinos 3-2 to move into the semifinals of the Nabisco Cup on Saturday.

Urawa, which claimed its first major trophy by beating Kashima Antlers in last year's final, will meet Nagoya Grampus Eight while FC Tokyo takes on local rival Tokyo Verdy in the semifinals on Oct. 9.

Defending J. League champion Yokohama took the lead in the 13th minute when Daisuke Oku crashed a superb free kick in off the underside of the crossbar but the Reds quickly hit back with a well taken finish from Koji Yamase at a rain-swept Saitama Stadium 2002.

Yuichiro Nagai squandered a glorious chance to put Urawa in front soon after Yamase's strike when he smacked his shot from close range against the bar but made amends by setting up Emerson to stab home his first of the night in the 38th minute.

Emerson, who turns 23 on Monday, doubled Urawa's lead in the 67th minute by converting a penalty earned after he was brought down in the area by defender Yuzo Kurihara.

Japan Under-23 striker Daisuke Sakata pulled one back for the visitors with a dipping shot after he had been appearing to control the ball with his hand but Urawa held on for the win.

"I'm glad I could celebrate my birthday like this with all the fans here. The players all really tried hard today," said Emerson.

At Mizuho Stadium, Brazilian forward Marques struck the decisive goal to put Nagoya in the last four with a 2-1 win while three-time Nabisco Cup winner Kashima was left ruing a late penalty miss and missed out on the chance of a place in the final for the third straight year.

FC Tokyo conceded an own goal in the 17th minute but came roaring back to thrash Gamba Osaka 4-1 at Tokyo's National Stadium.

At Ajinomoto Stadium, a "golden goal" from substitute Naoto Sakurai in the first period of extra time put Verdy in the semis for the first time in eight years after a 2-1 win over Shimizu S-Pulse.

The final will be played at National Stadium on Nov. 3

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