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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Nagoya strikers provide much-needed boost

Staff writer

SAITAMA — Keiji Tamada ended his goal drought in emphatic fashion as Nagoya Grampus handed out a 3-0 drubbing to Urawa Reds on Saturday night.

National team striker Tamada, who had not found the net since Nagoya's opening-day win over Oita Trinita, began the scoring at Saitama Stadium with a poacher's goal in the 15th minute before hitting a sweet drive off the crossbar shortly after the hour mark.

Australian Josh Kennedy completed the rout with his second goal in as many games since joining the club, leaving Urawa 10 points behind league-leaders Kashima Antlers, who drew 1-1 at home to Kashiwa Reysol.

Only two teams in the first division had managed less goals than Grampus going into the match, and manager Dragan Stojkovic was relieved at the drastic change in fortune.

"We suffered a lot in the last five or six games, so today was very important to get three points," he said. "It seems that we have found our sharpness from last year.

"As for Kennedy and Tamada, one striker scored two goals and the other scored one. It is a very good combination and they have a good feeling for the play. I can't ask for anything more from them."

Stojkovic also had words of praise for his defenders, after recent lapses at the back had plunged the club down to within four points of the relegation zone.

"We have spent a lot of time working on that this week," he said. "We didn't make any big mistakes, and this is exactly how Grampus should play. The last results have pushed us to think about everything more seriously than before. We don't like to be at the bottom of the table."

Tamada profited from confusion in the Urawa box for his first goal as teammates Kennedy and Yoshizumi Ogawa both tracked a cross drifting further and further out of range for a header. Ogawa somehow escaped with the ball at his feet, slipping it through for Tamada to turn and hit a crisp left-foot shot past Norihiro Yamagishi.

The goal settled the visitors' nerves, but the same could not be said of Reds left back Shunki Takahashi. The 19-year-old endured a torrid time in only his ninth league appearance — conceding a corner under no pressure at one point — before Finke replaced him with Naoki Yamada with just over half an hour gone.

Yamada's arrival gave the home side new impetus, but the revival was stopped dead in its tracks when Tamada notched his second of the evening.

Latching onto a knockdown from Kennedy, the striker exchanged passes with Ogawa before rifling a shot that cannoned off the underside of the bar before nestling in Yamagishi's net.

Magnum brought an athletic save from the Urawa goalkeeper as Grampus went in search of more, but the Brazilian had more luck when he picked out Kennedy with a cross for the third and final goal.

Elsewhere, FC Tokyo's run of five successive league wins came to an end with a 0-0 draw with Sanfrecce Hiroshima, while Shimizu S-Pulse beat JEF United Chiba 2-1.

Hayato Sasaki scored the only goal in Gamba Osaka's win over Oita Trinita, while Omiya Ardija survived a late goal from Yoshito Okubo to beat Vissel Kobe 2-1.

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