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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Urawa back in hunt after beating Omiya in Saitama derby

SAITAMA (Kyodo) Urawa Reds got their title challenge back on track after a bruising 2-0 win at home to local rival Omiya Ardija put them back on top of the J. League first division on Saturday.

Brazilian forward Washington struck in the first half, and substitute Yuichiro Nagai added a late second in an ugly affair at rain-swept Saitama Stadium 2002, which saw Urawa finish with 10 men after the late sending-off of midfielder Keita Suzuki.

Urawa climbed above Kawasaki Frontale, which was held to a 2-2 draw at home to Shimizu S-Pulse, and idle Gamba Osaka, which visits Albirex Niigata on Sunday.

Dislodged at the top of the table after its first defeat of the season at S-Pulse last weekend, Urawa lacked a creative spark in the absence of suspended Robson Ponte and only managed one shot on goal in the first half an hour, Hiroki Aratani comfortably gathering a tame shot from Makoto Hasebe after 13 minutes.

Omiya was unlucky not to go in front moments later as Daisuke Tomita rose to meet Daigo Kobayashi's corner only for Tadaaki Hirakawa to somehow stop the ball from crossing the line.

Tempers flared in the 24th minute and Suzuki sparked a 10-man brawl after he was booked for a rough challenge on former Red Naoto Sakurai.

At Todoroki Stadium, Kawasaki looked to be on its way to victory until South Korea striker Cho Jae Jin earned S-Pulse a share of the spoils with an 87th-minute equalizer.

Elsewhere, Alex Mineiro grabbed a double as Kashima Antlers came from behind to thrash Avispa Fukuoka 4-1 while ever-improving JEF United crushed Oita Trinita 3-0 at Kyushu Oil Dome.

Yokohama F. Marinos posted their first league win in six matches as a Naoki Matsuda penalty and a late goal from Takayuki Yoshida gave the home side a 2-1 win over bottom club Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

Cerezo Osaka had Hiroaki Morishima to thank for a late equalizer in a 2-2 draw with fellow struggler Kyoto Purple Sanga while FC Tokyo beat Nagoya Grampus Eight 2-1 in the day's late fixture thanks to a Lucas brace. Jubilo Iwata host Ventforet Kofu in Sunday's only other match.

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