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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Frontale moves top after Magnum's final gasp


Staff writer

KAWASAKI -- Kawasaki Frontale replaced Gamba Osaka at the J. League summit on Wednesday evening after Brazilian Magnum's late goal gave the home side a pulsating 3-2 win in a top-of-the-table clash.

News photo
Gamba Osaka's players look disappointed after a 3-2 defeat to Kawasaki Frontale on Wednesday at Kawasaki Todoroki Stadium. KYODO PHOTO

Compatriot Juninho dinked a clever through ball to Magnum on 77 minutes, and the midfielder stylishly controlled the ball with his chest before hammering the winner past Gamba 'keeper Yosuke Fujigaya from close range.

In stifling conditions at Kawasaki Todoroki Stadium, the game came to life when Gamba took the lead through a stunning Yasuhito Endo free-kick on 25 minutes before Frontale pulled level with a Yoshinobu Minowa header on 47 minutes.

Juninho then put the home side ahead with a penalty on 54 minutes before Akihiro Ienaga lashed in a stunning equalizer five minutes later, but Magnum's late show gave Kawasaki the three points. Frontale moved from second to first with 33 points from 15 games and Gamba slipped to third on 32 points, with Urawa Reds moving up to second on goal difference after a 1-0 win over Oita Trinita.

The visitors started the better of the two teams, but it was Frontale who went closest to taking the lead when Magnum's tame free-kick from 25 meters was deflected onto Fujigaya's post before the ball bobbled across the line and away to safety.

It needed something special if Gamba was going break down a well-organized Frontale defense, and Endo promptly delivered with an outrageous free-kick, his swirling 30-meter effort outfoxing Kawasaki 'keeper Takashi Aizawa who could only get his fingertips to the ball before it hit the top corner of the net.

Frontale drew level after Kengo Nakamura's brilliant 25-meter free-kick bent around the Gamba wall and crashed off the bar and bounced up just in front of the line.

The effort bamboozled Fujigaya but not Frontale defender Minowa, who waited for the ball to come down before placing a header over the Gamba 'keeper.

A fortuitous penalty put Frontale 2-1 ahead when Noritada Saneyoshi was ruled to have brought down Juninho, who fell to ground all too easily. The Brazilian picked himself up and dispatched a confident penalty.

The lead didn't last for long, though, as Ienaga picked up a through ball on 59 minutes and thrashed in a brilliant left-footed goal from the edge of the area.

It looked as if the spoils would be shared before Brazilian pair Juninho and Magnum combined, delighting the 20,000-strong crowd.



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