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Sunday, Oct. 8, 2006

Reds take 3-point cushion in standings

SAITAMA (Kyodo) Marcus Tulio Tanaka played through the pain barrier and capped another imperious display with a goal as Urawa Reds moved three points clear at the top of the J. League with a 2-0 win over JEF United Chiba on Saturday.

News photo
Urawa Reds Forward Washington scores a goal on a penalty kick in the 16th minute of a J. League first-division match against JEF United Chiba on Saturday at Saitama Stadium 2002. The Reds won 2-0. KYODO PHOTO

Chiba was reduced to 10 men before Washington put Urawa on its way with his 18th goal of the season, and despite a courageous second-half performance from the visitors, Japan defender Tanaka made the points safe with a towering header at Saitama Stadium 2002.

With eight games remaining, Urawa has 58 points with Gamba stuck on 55 after the defending champions went down 3-2 away to Jubilo Iwata.

"We are at the top so that has put extra pressure on us," said Urawa manger Guido Buchwald. "They had a man sent off and we were able to go in front with the penalty and having an extra man allowed us to move the ball around and attack well."

Washington earned and converted a 17th-minute penalty to edge Urawa in front, but the home side was unable to further capitalize on its numerical advantage after Kozo Yuki had been sent off for bringing the burly Brazilian striker down in the box.

Chiba 'keeper Masahiro Okamoto was kept busy and did well to twice deny Robson Ponte and smother a shot from Nobuhisa Yamada as Urawa sought to kill off the visitors with a flurry of attacks late in the first period.

JEF dug in deep after the break and had claims for a penalty of its own waved away by Masayoshi Okada after Satoru Yamagishi appeared to have been pulled down by his shirt. But any hopes of a comeback were extinguished moments later.

Yamada picked out Tanaka and the Japan international defender powered an unstoppable header past Okamoto in the 59th minute.

JEF twice hit the bar through Yuki Abe and Naotake Hanyu and its misery was complete when Bulgarian defender Ilian Stoyanov became the second player to be shown the red card when he received a second caution after the final whistle.

At Yamaha Stadium, Ryoichi Maeda scored his 11th goal of the season with a last-gasp winner to saddle Gamba with a second defeat in a row, while goals from Masaru Kurotsu and Hiroyuki Taniguchi kept Kawasaki Frontale in third with a 2-1 win at home to Oita Trinita.

Relegation-haunted Avispa Fukuoka produced the surprise result of the day with a 2-1 win at home to Kashima Antlers, and fellow strugglers Cerezo Osaka held Shimizu S-Pulse to a 1-1 draw at Nagai Stadium.



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