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Sunday, Oct. 24, 2004

Emerson strikes winner as Reds keep eye on title

KASHIMA, Ibaraki Pref. (Kyodo) Brazilian striker Emerson struck a late winner as Urawa Reds continued their march toward the second-stage title after edging Kashima Antlers 3-2 away in the J. League first division on Saturday.

News photo
KASHIWA, Chiba Pref. - Tomokazu Myojin (right) of Reysol and Akinori Nishizawa of Cerezo Osaka compete for the ball during Saturday's game in Kashiwa. The teams played to a 1-1 draw.

Emerson's superb 85th-minute strike in front of a bumper crowd of almost 32,000 at Kashima Stadium maintained Urawa's five-point lead at the top of the table with five games left while JEF United Ichihara stayed in touch with a 2-0 win at Nagoya Grampus Eight.

Athens Olympian Tatsuya Tanaka put Urawa in front after 11 minutes when he ran on to a clever pass from Yuichiro Nagai and clipped the ball over the onrushing Hitoshi Sogahata but poor defending allowed Kashima hit back.

Japan midfielder Mitsuo Ogasawara sent over a corner from the left and Daiki Iwamasa stole in to power home a header with Urawa goalkeeper Norihiro Yamagishi flapping at thin air.

Tanaka restored the visitors' lead when he headed in off the post after Alessandro Santos' free-kick came back off the crossbar but with Urawa's defense all at sea again Ogasawara lashed home from an angled drive on the stroke of halftime.

Ogasawara's strike looked to be enough to give the home side a point until Emerson beat Sogahata with a well-placed shot from the edge of the box to send the swarms of traveling fans behind the goal into ecstasy.

"We knew if we kept our concentration right till the end, chances would come and I'm pleased that I was able to take mine," said Emerson, whose goal took his tally for the season to 22.

Tanaka added, "We left it late but everybody worked hard for each other. It was nice to score but the most important thing is that we were able to take three points."

At Mizuho Stadium, Ichihara kept its title hopes alive thanks to second-half goals from Shinji Murai and Yuki Abe while defending champions Yokohama F. Marinos edged FC Tokyo 2-1 thanks to a brace from Daisuke Oku.

At the other end of the table, former Japan midfielder Tomokazu Myojin's 63rd-minute strike eased Kashiwa Reysol's relegation worries in a 1-1 draw at home to fellow struggler Cerezo Osaka while Tokyo Verdy hammered Shimizu S-Pulse 4-0.

In Saturday's evening game, Vissel Kobe were held to a 2-2 draw at home to Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

Zico's 'old boys'

RIO DE JANEIRO (Kyodo) Japan coach Zico said Friday he is sticking by his controversial plan to call up several ex-internationals, including aging striker Kazuyoshi Miura, for next month's World Cup qualifier at home to Singapore.

Japan, already assured a place in the final round of qualifiers for the 2006 finals in Germany, plays Singapore in Saitama on Nov. 17 and Zico insists that calling up the likes of veterans Miura, Masashi Nakayama and Yutaka Akita will not weaken the squad.

"Our level will not dip and it is a match we fully intend to win," Zico said in a telephone interview from Brazil, where he is on vacation.

"It will be a festival and I want to call up players that have helped build the history of the national side as a token of gratitude," the 51-year-old Brazilian added.

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