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Sunday, Sept. 3, 2006

Fernando strike gives Antlers edge

KASHIMA (Kyodo) A sizzling strike from Brazilian midfielder Ferndando proved decisive as Kashima Antlers beat Yokohama F. Marinos 1-0 at home in the first leg of their Nabisco Cup semifinal on Saturday.

Fernando rifled home in the 23rd minute but the Antlers had a couple of late scares and were indebted to defender Atsuto Uchida for a clearance that denied Marinos a crucial away goal to take back to Nissan Stadium for the second leg on Sept. 20.

The winner will meet either Kawasaki Frontale or holder JEF United Chiba, who face off on Sunday in their first-leg clash at Todoroki Stadium.

Yokohama had the first chance to open the scoring as Takayuki Yoshida's header skimmed the crossbar after 20 minutes, but the former Oita Trinita striker was left needing treatment for a cut head when Kashima went in front.

Fernando beat Tatsuya Enomoto from the edge of the box but the goal sparked furious protests from Yokohama, who felt referee Masayoshi Okada should have stopped the game after Yoshida went down.

Go Oiwa ought to have put Kashima further in front in the 34th minute when he put a free header over the bar and Enomoto saved his side when he raced off his line to block Alex Mineiro, who had pounced on a poor back pass.

Kashima rarely looked like building on their lead in the second period and Ryuji Kawai almost caught out Kashima 'keeper Hitoshi Sogahata in the 62nd minute.

Uchida cleared Hideo Oshima's goal-bound header off the line in the 86th minute and Tatsuhiko Kubo knows that he should have taken a golden chance to equalize for the visitors in injury time.

"It's home and away and the coach told us before the match that the main thing was to keep a clean sheet tonight. We managed to do that and are pleased with the result," said Uchida.

The final will be held at National Stadium in Tokyo on Nov. 3

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