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Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008

Reds miss chance to move into first; Antlers take over J. League lead


By GUS FIELDING

SAITAMA (Kyodo) Urawa Reds squandered the chance to move level on points at the top of the J. League after the Asian club champions were held to a surprise 2-2 draw at home to Kyoto Sanga on Wednesday.

Quick-fire goals from Edmilson and Naohiro Takahara at the end of the first half saw Urawa come from behind to lead 2-1, but the Reds were pegged back for a second time when former Japan striker Atsushi Yanagisawa finished a flowing move to earn the visitors a share of the points.

There were no surprises in Wednesday's other games involving the J. League's big guns as champions Kashima Antlers blanked Omiya Ardija 2-0 thanks to Marquinhos 19th and 20th goals of the season, while Gamba Osaka beat 10-man Kashiwa Reysol 2-1 at Expo Stadium.

Kashima moved top of the table on 49 points ahead of Nagoya Grampus on goal difference. Oita have 48 points while Reds are fourth another point back.

Yasuhito Endo sealed victory for Gamba from the penalty spot and kept the 2005 league champions in the title race on 43 points.

Urawa made most of the early running in a first half as shabby as the pitch at Komaba Stadium and striker Edmilson's shot was blocked by Yuichi Mizutani's sprawling save after 16 minutes.

It was the visitors, though, that opened the scoring against the run of play. Yusuke Nakatani pounced on a loose ball and although Ryota Tsuzuki was able to get a hand to his low shot, the Urawa goalkeeper could not stop the ball from creeping over the line.

Robson Ponte's free kick caught Kyoto napping and Urawa drew level on 41 minutes as Edmilson scored with a diving header before the Brazilian played a major role in Takahara's goal seconds later.

Ponte collected Edmilson's through ball, rounded Mizutani and lashed across the face of goal for Takahara to bundle home at the far post.

Yanagisawa slotted home at the far post to wrap up the scoring following an intricate four-man move five minutes into the second period although Urawa nearly snatched victory three minutes from time when substitute Marcus Tulio Tanaka rattled the crossbar.

"I am really not happy about this because we had a good performance but not a good result," said Urawa manager Gert Engels.

"This was the same case in the last game (a 1-1 draw at Nagoya) but Nagoya was a stronger opponent. Today we should have taken these three points. It was not necessary to concede the first goal and that was a key point."

Kyoto manager Hisashi Kato praised his side for picking up their first point in three matches after they lost Fernandinho to a dislocated elbow in the first half.

"We only managed a point but a point is a point. We were well organized today and kept on fighting until the end," said Kato.



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