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Monday, Sept. 25, 2006

Fernando's hat trick lifts Antlers into fourth position in J. League

KASHIMA, Ibaraki Pref. (Kyodo) Brazilian midfielder Fernando helped himself to a hat trick as Kashima Antlers completed a fruitful week with a 3-2 win at home to FC Tokyo in the J. League first division on Sunday.

The Antlers suffered a 2-1 defeat at Yokohama F. Marinos in midweek but reached the Nabisco Cup final on the away goals rule and Fernando's contribution against Tokyo helped them keep alive their slim hopes of catching league leaders Gamba Osaka.

The result lifted Kashima above Shimizu S-Pulse into fourth in the table on 45 points but Paulo Autuori's men still have plenty of ground to make up as they remain 10 points adrift of Gamba, which demolished 10-man Kawasaki Frontale 4-0 on Saturday.

Fernando set the wheels in motion with a sweetly struck 25-meter drive to give Kashima the lead in the 29th minute and the 28-year-old doubled his team's advantage by rising above two defenders to head home Takuya Nozawa's corner three minutes into the second half.

Fernando looked to have put Kashima in cruise control when he arrived at the far post to score from another Nozawa corner in the 68th but two goals in the last six minutes from Yohei Kajiyama and Yasuyuki Konno set up a tense finale.

"Obviously I'm very pleased with the three goals because they have given us a very important win," said Fernando, who also scored in last week's win over Shimizu.

"But we can do without conceding goals like that and we need to learn to tighten up throughout the team and know when it's time to shut up shop."

In the day's other game, Edmilson grabbed a double and Shingo Suzuki scored the other as Albirex Niigata eased to a 3-0 win at home to Ventforet Kofu, who had Hideomi Yamamoto sent off midway through the second half.

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