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Thursday, April 27, 2006

JEF United's Maki pleads case for World Cup

HIROSHIMA (Kyodo) World Cup hopeful Seiichiro Maki sent Japan coach Zico another reminder of his goal-scoring talents with a brace as 10-man JEF United Chiba survived a late comeback to beat troubled Sanfrecce Hiroshima 4-3 in the J. League Nabisco Cup on Wednesday night.

News photo
Yokohama defender Naoki Matsuda scores the game-winner in the second half of Nabisco Cup group-league play against the FC Tokyo on Wednesday.

Victory maintained JEF's spotless record in the group stage of the Japanese League Cup while Urawa Reds also stayed perfect with a third win in quick succession over Avispa Fukuoka and Yokohama F. Marinos edged FC Tokyo thanks to a second-half winner from Naoki Matsuda.

Maki, who has been in scintillating form over the last few weeks, added to Masataka Sakamoto's third-minute opener in the sixth minute and doubled his tally in the 27th before Yuto Sato made it 4-0 nine minutes before the break.

JEF had Kozo Yuki sent off early in the second half, and goals from Kohei Morita and Koji Morisaki gave Hiroshima hope, but the visitors held on for the win.

JEF top Group C on nine points ahead of Albirex Niigata, who beat Shimizu S-Pulse 2-1 away thanks to a 53rd-minute effort from Takayuki Nakahara.

In Group A, first-half goals from Shinji Ono, Yuichiro Nagai and Tadaaki Hirakawa put Urawa on the way to a comfortable 3-1 win over Fukuoka while Yokohama put their miserable league form behind them thanks to Matsuda's long-range strike to make it three wins out of three.

In Group B, Juninho and Kazuki Ganaha were on target again as free-scoring Kawasaki Frontale thrashed Kyoto Purple Sanga 4-1 to move level on six points from three games with Kashima Antlers, who suffered a 1-0 defeat away to Oita Trinita.

Jubilo Iwata had Japan midfielder Shinji Murai to thank for a late close-range effort that gave them a 3-2 win away to Omiya Ardija. Iwata moved top of Group D as Ventforet Kofu was held to a 1-1 draw at home to Nagoya Grampus Eight.

The top team from each of the four groups advance to the quarterfinals along with three teams with the best runnerup records and last year's beaten finalist Gamba Osaka.

Gamba received a bye into the last eight because of its place in the Asian Champions League.



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