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Sunday, Oct. 4, 2009

Draw moves S-Pulse atop J. League table

SHIZUOKA (Kyodo) Shimizu S-Pulse replaced champion Kashima Antlers at the top of the J. League, for 24 hours at least, after a 1-1 draw at home to Sanfrecce Hiroshima on Saturday.

Hisato Sato celebrated his return to the Japan national team by firing Hiroshima into a 30th-minute lead at Outsourcing Stadium, but Shinji Okazaki earned S-Pulse a point on the stroke of halftime, heading in Kosuke Ota's cross for his 13th goal of the season.

Shimizu, unbeaten in its last 13 matches, has 50 points with six games left and lead fading Kashima on goal difference at the top of the table. The Antlers host Albirex Niigata on Sunday.

"Hiroshima made the most of that one chance to put us on the back foot but I thought we did well to come back through Okazaki's goal," said Shimizu manager Kenta Hasegawa.

Elsewhere, Yuki Abe contributed to his former club's downfall with a sweetly struck free kick as Urawa Reds compounded JEF United Chiba's relegation fears with a 3-1 win at Saitama Stadium 2002.

Sanfrecce is five points off the pace in fourth spot. Urawa is tied on 43 points with Niigata and Kawasaki Frontale, who are in action Sunday against local rivals Yokohama F. Marinos.

Chiba remains deep in the mire, eight points adrift of safety, while third-from-bottom Kashiwa Reysol went down 2-1 at home to Jubilo Iwata, Sho Naruoka snatching victory for Jubilo seven minutes from time.

Montedio Yamagata, four points ahead of Kashiwa in the safety zone, was held 0-0 at home to bottom club Oita Trinita.

Former Japan striker Atsushi Yanagisawa was on target as Kyoto Sanga earned a 1-1 draw at Vissel Kobe.

In Sunday's other games, third-place Gamba Osaka hosts Omiya Ardija and Asian Champions League semifinalist Nagoya Grampus welcomes FC Tokyo to Mizuho Stadium.

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