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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Juninho hat trick powers Kawasaki win

KAWASAKI (Kyodo) Brazilian striker Juninho finally opened his season account by grabbing a hat trick as Kawasaki Frontale swept aside 10-man Kashiwa Reysol in the Nabisco Cup on Wednesday night.

News photo
Nagoya Grampus forward Keita Sugimoto celebrates his goal in the 68th minute during Wednesday's Nabisco Cup match against Vissel Kobe at Mizuho Stadium in Nagoya. Grampus won 2-0. KYODO PHOTO

Last season's J. League top scorer opened the scoring after 21 minutes at Todoroki Stadium and headed the second in the 31st before completing the scoring just before the hour mark to give Frontale their first points in Group C.

JEF United Chiba, the 2005 and 2006 Nabisco Cup winners, remained top of the group on five points from three games after a 0-0 draw at home to Consadole Sapporo.

Chiba dominated the opening period at Fukuda Denshi Arena but a Seiichiro Maki drive that shaved the post on 17 minutes was all the home side had to show for their efforts against defensive Sapporo.

Davi hit the sidenetting with Sapporo's only clear opportunity but Yuya Sato pulled off a wonder save from Tatsuya Yazawa in the dying seconds to ensure the visitors a share of the spoils.

"Obviously I'm not satisfied because we didn't win," said Chiba manager Josip Kuze, whose side have yet to win in six J. League matches so far this season.

"But after conceding four goals against Omiya (on Saturday) I wanted more organization at the back and keeping a clean sheet is a plus point."

In Group A, Urawa Reds were held 1-1 by Kyoto Sanga while Nagoya Grampus moved top with a 2-0 win over Vissel Kobe thanks to goals from Keita Sugimoto and Toshiya Fujita.

Fernandinho grabbed a first-half double as Shimizu S-Pulse moved three points clear at the top of Group B after thrashing Tokyo Verdy 5-0, while FC Tokyo against Jubilo Iwata finished 1-1.

An own goal put Group D leaders Yokohama F Marinos on the way to a 4-0 win at home to Omiya Ardija. Albirex Niigata and Oita Trinita played out a 1-1 draw.

The top team from each group and the two best second-place finishers join holders Gamba Osaka and J. League champions Kashima Antlers in the quarterfinals.

Gamba and Kashima have been given a bye into the last eight because of their involvement in the Asian Champions League.

Grant still confident

LONDON (AP) With four games left, Chelsea's Premier League title hopes are all but over.

Chelsea conceded an injury-time goal and stumbled to a 1-1 draw at home to Wigan on Monday night, leaving the Blues five points behind leader Manchester United.

Chelsea plays Everton on Thursday in a game rescheduled for television. After that, the Blues host Manchester United on April 26 in a make or break match.

"We need to win the games against Everton and Manchester United," embattled manager Avram Grant said. "If not, it will be more difficult. We are still in it and we will keep on fighting but we need one more bad result off Manchester United."

Sandwiched in between the Everton and United games is the first leg of the semifinals of the Champions League against Liverpool at Anfield.

"I think we need to concentrate on ourselves and win all our games," said Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech.

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