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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Okazaki notches equalizer to keep S-Pulse unbeaten

SUITA, Osaka Pref. (Kyodo) Japan striker Shinji Okazaki grabbed a second-half equalizer as Shimizu S-Pulse preserved their unbeaten start to the season with a 1-1 draw away to Gamba Osaka in the J. League on Saturday.

Tomokazu Myojin put injury-ravaged Gamba ahead from the penalty spot five minutes before halftime but Okazaki earned S-Pulse a share of the spoils and kept them top of the table with a deflected effort on 70 minutes at Expo Stadium.

Shimizu improved to 15 points from seven games, two ahead of Nagoya Grampus, who were held 1-1 at home to Albirex Niigata.

"I had plenty of chances and should have scored more than one goal," said Okazaki. "I think we can be positive about taking a point away from home but I reckon it is my fault that we didn't win today."

At Mizuho Stadium, Marcus Tulio Tanaka gave Nagoya the lead with an 83rd-minute header but it finished honors even after Hideo Oshima equalized a minute from time.

In other games, Daisuke Sakata's header proved decisive as Yokohama F. Marinos beat Montedio Yamagata 1-0 away, while Vissel Kobe won by the same scoreline at promoted Vegalta Sendai thanks to Ken Tokura's goal.

Up-and-coming striker Kentaro Shigematsu converted a 73rd-minute penalty to earn FC Tokyo a point in a 1-1 draw against Kyoto Sanga, and it also ended a goal apiece between Jubilo Iwata and Omiya Ardija, Ryoichi Maeda canceling out Naoki Ishihara's 40th-minute opener for Ardija.

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