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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Gamba moves top as Reds stumble

SUITA, Osaka Pref. (Kyodo) Defending champion Gamba Osaka leapfrogged Urawa Reds to move top of the J. League as Magno Alves' 10th goal of the season secured a 1-0 win at home to FC Tokyo in the J. League first division on Saturday.

News photo
Seiichiro Maki of JEF United Chiba jumps for the ball during Saturday's game against Jubilo Iwata.

Akihiro Ienaga fed the in-form Brazilian striker to beat Yoichi Doi from 18 meters with the only goal of the game in the 36th minute as Gamba extended their winning streak to six matches.

"It certainly was a tough game and my team looked tired but our never-say-die spirit was there for all to see today," said Gamba manager Akira Nishino.

Gamba went top after Urawa suffered its first defeat of the season after a shock 2-1 reverse away to Shimizu S-Pulse in an ill-tempered evening game at Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa.

Urawa's defeat dropped the Reds into third in the table and Kawasaki Frontale climbed into second after goals from Hiroyuki Taniguchi and Okinawan striker Kazuki Ganaha gave it a 2-0 win away to Nagoya Grampus Eight.

Shimizu went in front through Marquinhos in the 24th minute and South Korean striker Cho Jae Jin doubled the lead seconds later.

Brazilian striker Washington pulled one back from the penalty spot but Urawa was unable to find a way back and its misery was compounded when Japan defender Keisuke Tsuboi was sent off for a second bookable offense late on. Robson Ponte was also red-carded after the final whistle.

At Fukuda Denshi Arena, JEF United Chiba goalkeeper Tomonori Tateishi celebrated his 32nd birthday with a clean sheet in an absorbing 0-0 draw at home to Jubilo Iwata.

Tateishi kept Iwata at bay with a series of excellent saves but JEF was unable to capitalize on a host of chances in the second half with Japan goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi also impressing in front of watching national team coach Zico.

News photo
Magno Alves of Gamba Osaka shoots during Saturday's game against FC Tokyo.

"If Kawaguchi plays like that for the next couple of months, then Japan are going to win the World Cup," quipped Chiba manager Ivica Osim after the match.

Elsewhere, 10-man Kashima Antlers won 2-1 away to Kyoto Purple Sanga thanks to goals from Takeshi Aoki and Yuzo Tashiro while a last-minute own goal gave Oita Trinita a 2-2 draw away to Omiya Ardija.

At the foot of the table, Hisato Sato took less than a minute to score his fifth goal of the season but Sanfrecce Hiroshima remains bottom of the table after being held to a 1-1 draw by fellow struggler Cerezo Osaka.

Out-of-sorts Yokohama F. Marinos travels to Ventforet Kofu on Sunday when Avispa Fukuoka welcomes the visit of Albirex Niigata.

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