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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Urawa falters as Antlers move into first place

KASHIMA, Chiba Pref. (Kyodo) Kashima Antlers reclaimed pole position in the J. League first division with a 1-0 win at home to Vissel Kobe on Wednesday.

News photo
Battling for the ball: Kashima Antlers forward Shinzo Koroki fights Vissel Kobe defender Kunie Kitamoto for the ball during their J. League match on Wednesday at Kashima Stadium. Antlers won 1-0. KYODO PHOTO

Defender Daiki Iwamasa headed Kashima's 1,000th league goal after just two minutes and it proved to be enough to lift Kashima back above Urawa Reds on goal difference after the Reds were held 2-2 away to Shimizu S-Pulse.

"I'd forgotten that it was the 1,000th goal when I put it in but it hit me in the second half and I realized I'd got it. It's great," said Iwamasa.

"In order to win the championship again we have to keep on picking up three points and we need to get ourselves prepared for our next game (against JEF United Chiba)."

At Ecopa Stadium, Kazuki Hara gave Shimizu an 18th-minute lead from the penalty spot but Robson Ponte pounced on a loose ball to level nine minutes before halftime.

Urawa went in front through teenage midfielder Naoki Yamada with 15 minutes remaining but Urawa's five-match league and cup winning streak game came to an end when Arata Kodama snatched a share of the spoils three minutes from time.

In other games, promoted Montedio Yamagata continued their impressive start to life in the top flight as Yu Hasegawa took his goal tally for the season to five with a double in a 3-0 win at Omiya Ardija.

Vitor Junior's 18th-minute strike put Kawasaki Frontale on the way to a handsome 4-1 win over visiting Kyoto Sanga but Asian allies Nagoya Grampus were held 0-0 at home to Sanfrecce Hiroshima. Gamba Osaka overpowered FC Tokyo 4-2.

At the bottom of the table, Kazuma Watanabe struck his fifth of the season to give Yokohama F Marinos a 1-0 win over Jubilo Iwata while Daisuke Saito's late equalizer earned Chiba a useful point in a 2-2 draw away to Albirex Niigata.

Two goals in the last eight minutes from veteran striker Hideaki Kitajima and Yuki Otsu saw Kashiwa Reysol beat bottom club Oita Trinita 2-1 and clinch their first win of the season.

Everton heads to U.S.

NEW YORK (AP) The top players in Major League Soccer will face English Premier League team and F.A. Cup finalist Everton FC in July's MLS All-Star game at Rio Tinto Stadium.

MLS All-Stars are undefeated in five previous showcases against international competition.

"We are very excited about Everton FC agreeing to be the opponent for the 2009 MLS All-Star Game," MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a league statement. "Everton is an elite European club that features many world-class players, including former MLS standout Tim Howard, who will challenge our unbeaten record against English Premier League teams in the MLS All-Star Game series."

Everton, based in Liverpool, has competed in the England's top division for a record 107 seasons and has won nine League championships. The Toffees, as they are known to their fans, advanced to the FA Cup final by defeating Manchester United on penalty kicks and will face UEFA Champions League semifinalist Chelsea FC on May 30.

"We are all looking forward to the match in Salt Lake City," said Everton manager David Moyes. "I am sure there will be a lot of interest in the game and it will be a valuable part of our preseason schedule. We always enjoy spending time in America during the summer because the facilities are first-class and there is a warm welcome wherever we go."

Everton is led by U.S. national team star Tim Howard, one of the top goalkeepers in Europe and a former MLS standout.

"I can't wait to play the MLS All-Stars," Howard said. "I will doubtless know a few of the guys from the US team and I know full well that it will be a real test for us at that stage of our preseason."

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