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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Antlers win big against Grampus

NAGOYA (AP) High-flying Kashima Antlers continued their march toward an unprecedented third consecutive J. League championship crown with a comfortable 3-0 win away to Nagoya Grampus on Wednesday.

News photo
Control of the ball: Nagoya Grampus defender Hayuma Tanaka battles Kashima Antlers midfielder Masashi Motoyama during their J. League match on Wednesday at Mizuho Stadium. Antlers won 3-0. KYODO PHOTO

Shinzo Koroki, Takuya Nozawa and Marquinhos all hit the target at a rain-lashed Mizuho Stadium as the runaway leaders opened up an eight-point gap at the top of the table approaching the midway point of the season.

The champions have 38 points from 15 games while Kawasaki Frontale moved into the second spot on 30 points after a 1-0 win at home to Gamba Osaka.

"It was disappointing to get knocked out of the Asian Champions League (last Wednesday) but we can only overcome the disappointment in that competition. What we are just trying to do now is turn things around in the J. League so it was a boost to beat Grampus," said Koroki.

"Hopefully we can stretch our lead in the table even more. It will be tight in our next game against Frontale but I will do my best," said the pint-sized striker.

Nagoya created the first chance of note with Yoshizumi Ogawa sending a free header wide of the far post after 16 minutes.

But it was the visitors who broke the deadlock on 23 minutes as Koroki swept in from 11 meters following an exchange of passes between Masashi Motoyama and Brazilian striker Marquinhos.

Koroki thought he had doubled the visitors' lead moments later but his header from Mitsuo Ogasawara's free kick was ruled out for offside.

Kashima continued to force the pace and Marquinhos rattled the outside of Seigo Narazaki's left-hand post before Nozawa made it 2-0 a minute before halftime.

Motoyama and Koroki both dummied Park Joo Ho's pass across the edge of the box and Nozawa collected the ball to beat Narazaki with a sharp finish.

Marquinhos' snapshot gave Narazaki no chance and wrapped up Kashima's eighth straight league win nine minutes after the interval. At Todoroki Stadium, Kawasaki inflicted more misery on Gamba a week after knocking them out of the Asian Champions League,striker Yuji Yabu grabbing the only goal of the game in the 33rd minute.

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