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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Gamba Osaka rolls

SUITA, Osaka Pref. (Kyodo) Ryuji Bando and Magno Alves gave FC Tokyo a taste of their own medicine with two goals apiece as Gamba Osaka came from two goals down to coast to a 6-2 win and preserve their five-point cushion at the top of the J. League on Saturday.

News photo
Urawa Reds midfielder Yuki Abe battles Shimizu S-Pulse forward Takuro Yajima for the ball up in the air during their J. League first-division match on Saturday at Nihondaira Sports Stadium. Reds won 1-0. KYODO PHOTO

Early strikes from Takashi Fukunishi and Norio Suzuki had put visiting Tokyo in control but Takahiro Futagawa ignited Gamba's comeback and Magno Alves finished the job in style to keep the 2006 champions in pole position at the midway point of the season.

After 17 games played, Gamba have 38 points while reigning champions Urawa Reds stayed in touch after Yuki Abe scored the only goal of the game at Shimizu S-Pulse to give the Reds their first league win at Nihondaira Stadium in a decade.

Second-place Urawa is five points adrift of Gamba but have a game in hand on Akira Nishino's men.

At Nihondaira Stadium, Abe powered home the winner in the 25th minute from Robson Ponte's left-wing corner to give Urawa their third win in a row.

"This has been a perfect week for us," said Urawa manager Holger Osieck. "We have won all three of our matches without conceding a goal. Added to that, the performances were good and we have played as a solid unit."

Albirex Niigata moved into third spot and turned the heat back up on JEF United Chiba boss Amar Osim as Kisho Yano put his side on the way to a 2-1 win at Fukuda Denshi Arena.

Elsewhere, striker Ryoichi Maeda celebrated his call-up to Japan's provisional squad for the Asian Cup with a double as Jubilo Iwata won 3-2 at Kawasaki Frontale to go fourth while Tadanari Lee also scored twice as Kashiwa Reysol beat Yokohama FC 4-2 away to snap a five-match winless streak.

Yoshito Okubo's ninth goal of the season earned Vissel Kobe a 3-2 win over Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Katsuya Ishihara and Junya Kuno were both on target in Ventforet Kofu's 2-0 win over Oita Trinita.

Omiya Ardija play Yokohama F. Marinos and Kashima Antlers take on Nagoya Grampus Eight on Sunday.



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