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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Washington strikes late to down Grampus Eight

TOYOTA, Aichi Pref. (Kyodo) Washington conjured up another crucial goal to keep Urawa Reds in touch with leaders Gamba Osaka after a 2-1 win away to Nagoya Grampus Eight in the J. League on Saturday.

News photo
Urawa forward Washington reacts to the fans after he scored a goal in the 85th minute against Nagoya Grampus Eight at Toyota Stadium on Saturday. Reds won 2-1. KYODO PHOTO

The defending champions looked as though they would have to settle for a fourth league draw in a row after Washington spurned a glorious chance to snatch victory with nine minutes remaining at Toyota Stadium.

But the former Brazil international, who earned Urawa a 1-1 draw with Gamba last weekend after missing a penalty, earned redemption when he collected a square pass from Robson Ponte and lashed home his ninth of the season in the 85th minute, five minutes from time.

Urawa remained two points adrift of Gamba, who beat Kashiwa Reysol 2-1 thanks to first-half-goals from Bare and Takahiro Futagawa. Japan Under-22 striker Tadanari Lee scored a late consolation for Kashiwa.

At Toyota Stadium, Nene rose to head Urawa in front from a Ponte corner in the 28th minute but the Brazilian defender then allowed Frode Johnsen space at the far post to poke home Nagoya's equalizer nine minutes before the interval.

Deadball specialist Keisuke Honda almost gave Nagoya the lead when his 78th-minute free kick was acrobatically turned away by Urawa custodian Ryota Tsuzuki.

With shades of offside, Washington looked odds on to score before he was thwarted by Seigo Narazaki but he atoned with a clinical finish to give Urawa its fourth away win at Nagoya in 17 league matches.

"We have drawn a lot of our matches recently so it was vital that we got three points today. I am very satisfied with the team's performance," said Urawa manager Holger Osieck.

"In (Keita) Sugimoto, Honda and Johnsen, Nagoya have plenty of dangerous attacking players and the team is capable of pulling off surprises. Tsuzuki did brilliantly to keep Honda's free kick out."

In other matches, goals from Augusto and Serginho gave Oita Trinita a 2-0 win at home to Kawasaki Frontale, who had Juninho sent off on the stroke of halftime, while Albirex Niigata drew 1-1 at home to Kashima Antlers, Masaki Fukai canceling out Daiki Iwamasa's fifth-minute opener for the visitors.

At the other end of the table, Daisuke Tomita's late strike lifted Omiya Ardija out of last place in a rain-interrupted 1-0 win over fellow strugglers Yokohama FC and Ueslei struck his eighth J. League hat-trick as Sanfrecce Hiroshima won 3-1 to send JEF United Chiba into the relegation zone. Shimizu S-Pulse's match against Ventforet Kofu finished 0-0.

Sunday's games see Yokohama F. Marinos welcome the visit of FC Tokyo while Jubilo Iwata entertain Vissel Kobe.

Blues look to FA Cup

LONDON (AP) Chelsea has a chance for redemption Saturday when the FA Cup final returns to Wembley.

The Blues finished six points behind Manchester United in the Premier League and lost to Liverpool in the Champions League semifinals. Its success in the League Cup so far has been the only payoff for owner Roman Abramovich's preseason investment in striker Andriy Shevchenko and midfielder Michael Ballack.

Chelsea won the last FA Cup final at the old Wembley stadium in 2000, and a victory at the rebuilt arena would go a long way toward securing coach Jose Mourinho's job for next season.

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