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Sunday, April 9, 2006

Cerezo's heads spinning after loss

CHIBA (Kyodo) JEF United Chiba registered their first league home win of the season with a 2-1 defeat of struggling Cerezo Osaka on Saturday, increasing the pressure on Cerezo manager Shinji Kobayashi in the process.

News photo
Yasuhito Endo (left) of Gamba Osaka and Kashima Antlers' Mitsuo Ogasawara compete for the ball during their J. League match in Osaka.

Early goals from Naotake Hanyu and Satoru Yamagishi did the damage at Fukuda Denshi Arena and kept Kobayashi's men rooted at the foot of the table with just three points taken from seven games played so far this term.

A pale shadow of the team that came within a whisker of capturing their first J. League title last year, Cerezo was left chasing the game after Chiba raced into a 2-0 lead after just eight minutes.

Hanyu opened the scoring when he slotted home a feed from Nebojsa Krupnikovic in the fourth minute, and the midfielder then turned provider with a clever pass that Yamagishi clipped past Motohiro Yoshida.

Former Japan striker Akinori Nishizawa replied for Cerezo after 16 minutes with a well-taken volley, but the visitors never looked like finding a way back into the game.

"We got a goal back and did a lot better in the second half. But we were unable to contain Hanyu at the start, and those early goals turned out to be a blow we couldn't recover from," said Cerezo manager Kobayashi.

Chiba should have won by a greater margin, but Austrian striker Mario Haas and Seiichiro Maki were both guilty of missing excellent chances in each half.

Chiba manager Ivica Osim, however, was happy enough with his team's performance.

In Saturday's evening fixture, Gamba had Yasuhito Endo to thank after the Japan midfielder sealed victory with a last-minute penalty.

Elsewhere, Yokohama F. Marinos was handed a surprise 2-1 defeat away to Omiya Ardija, Daigo Kobayashi striking the winner 13 minutes from time, and Masaru Kurotsu scored twice as Kawasaki moved into second with a 3-1 win away to lowly Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

In other games, Albirex Niigata ran out 4-0 winners over Ventforet Kofu, which had Michitaka Akimoto sent off, while Nagoya Grampus Eight was held to a 1-1 draw at home to Kyoto Purple Sanga and FC Tokyo beat Jubilo Iwata 3-1.

Urawa travels to Avispa Fukuoka and Shimizu S-Pulse entertains Oita Trinita on Sunday.

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