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Sunday, July 8, 2007

Gamba, Kofu in driver's seat

SAITAMA (Kyodo) Gamba Osaka grabbed a 1-1 draw away to Urawa Reds and Ventforet Kofu held off Kawasaki Frontale 3-2 at home in the first leg of their J. league Nabisco Cup quarterfinals on Saturday.

Satoshi Yamaguchi headed a late equalizer to give Gamba a lift ahead of the return leg next weekend, while Daisuke Sudo completed a hat-trick with a last-minute winner to put unfashionable Kofu in the driver's seat.

At Saitama, Urawa went ahead after 12 minutes when Shinji Ono poked home past Gamba goalkeeper Yosuke Fujigaya after Hideki Uchidate latched onto a loose clearance and unleashed a mid-range shot.

J. league leaders Gamba threw men forward in search of an equalizer and a precious away goal. Magno Alves struck the post with a header in the 18th minute and Shu Kurata rattled the crossbar from 20 meters three minutes later.

Urawa keeper Norihiro Yamagishi then dived to his left to parry a Magno Alves spot kick after Ono brought down Tomokazu Myojin in the box just before the half-hour mark.

After weathering waves of Gamba attacks, the home side gained control of the match and almost snatched a second when Satoshi Horinouchi saw a close-range shot hit the post in the 44th minute.

In the other first-leg match played Saturday, Sudo opened the scoring after five minutes and added his second in the 32nd before slotting home his third in the dying minutes by finishing off a slick three-man move.

Kawasaki came from behind twice with an own goal and a 57th-minute strike from Juninho but were unable to contain Sudo.

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