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Sunday, Dec. 12, 2004

F. Marinos repeat as J. League champs

SAITAMA (AP) Goalkeeper Tetsuya Enomoto made two diving saves Saturday as Yokohama F. Marinos defeated Urawa Reds 4-2 on penalties to capture their second straight J. League championship.

News photo
Norihisa Shimizu of the F. Marinos contests a ball with the Reds' Marcus Tulio Tanaka during Saturday's J. League championship final, second-leg match.

Enomoto made saves on Marcus Tulio Tanaka and Makoto Hasebe in a penalty shootout at Saitama Stadium to give Takeshi Okada's side their third title overall.

"It's a great feeling, it doesn't get any better than this," said F. Marinos defender Yuji Nakazawa. "To come in here and win it in their stadium, that's really huge for us."

First-stage winners Yokohama won the first match of the two-leg championship final 1-0 at International Stadium Yokohama a week ago.

Second-stage winners Urawa led 1-0 after regulation time on a goal by Alessandro Santos in the 77th minute but were unable to score in extra time and the match went into a penalty shootout.

Daisuke Oku, Yoshiharu Ueno, Daisuke Sakata and Dutra all found the net for Yokohama in the shootout.

Tulio had a glorious opportunity to secure victory in the final minute of fulltime when he was left unmarked in front of the goal, but his header off a corner went right into the arms of Enomoto.

After a sluggish first half, Urawa finally got on the scoresheet after the break.

Yokohama defender Eisuke Nakanishi was sent off when he took down J. League leading scorer Emerson near the top of the area.

Santos rifled home on the ensuing play with a curling free-kick that eluded the outstretched hands of Enomoto.

Emerson was sent off for rough play in the final minutes of extra-time.

It was the final Suntory Championship. After this season, the J. League will scrap the two-stage format in favor of single-stage round-robin system. The 16-team league will also expand to 18 teams next season.

Yokohama's first good chance came 12 minutes into the second half when Daisuke Sakata beat a defender and fired past Reds goalkeeper Norihiro Yamagishi only to have Tulio parry the ball safely out of harm's way.



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