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Monday, Aug. 23, 2010

Grampus pull away at top of table

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Nagoya Grampus moved five points clear of Cerezo Osaka in the J. League first division title race with a 3-1 victory over Gamba Osaka on Sunday night.

News photo
Close quarters: Gamba's Shoki Hirai (right) takes on Nagoya's Naoshi Nakamura on Sunday night. KYODO PHOTO

A gorgeous drive by Naoshi Nakamura from 30 meters out pushed Grampus in front in the sixth minute at Mizuho Stadium. Hideo Hashimoto equalized 11 minutes later, the Gamba midfielder scoring in his sixth straight game.

But Hashimoto's goal — his seventh of the season — went to waste as Danilson Cordoba made it 2-1 for Grampus with a header from a penalty-box scramble.

Josh Kennedy headed home from a corner nine minutes past the hour to give Nagoya a comfortable two-goal cushion that it would retain until the final whistle. Kennedy leads J1 with 11 goals.

Dragan Stojkovic's charges improved to 41 points from 20 matches, and are a strong bet to pad out their lead next weekend as they host dead-last Kyoto Sanga, who have not won since March 27.

Stojkovic credited his team for bouncing back from a 4-0 away defeat to Kawasaki Frontale on Wednesday.

"Physically, it was very, very hard because Gamba play a very good passing game," he said. "We showed very strong character, especially after a 4-0 result in Kawasaki."

"I think we deserved to win. We fight very well — and we scored three goals."

The defeat left Gamba, who host Jubilo Iwata next Sunday, in seventh place on 31 points.

"Our performance wasn't too bad overall, but the difference was in the finishing," Gamba coach Akira Nishino said. "We were off to a slow start — again — and it's too tough playing catch up with them."

Shimizu S-Pulse slipped up once again as Kenta Hasegawa's men dropped their third in a row, losing 2-1 to Jubilo Iwata in the Shizuoka derby at Ecopa Stadium.

Yasuhiro Yamamoto's 43rd-minute goal won it for Jubilo, who had opened the scoring after 23 minutes through Gilsinho. Kosuke Ota made it 1-1 in the 41st minute, only to see Yamamoto cancel his equalizer minutes later.

S-Pulse slid down the table to fourth place with 36 points behind Cerezo and Kashima Antlers on goal difference.

Vegalta Sendai picked up three crucial points to their survival as the 16th-place team thrashed Omiya Ardija 3-0 away, ending a 14-game winless streak dating back to April.

Fernandinho scored on either side of halftime and Shingo Akamine netted his first goal in a Sendai shirt since transferring from FC Tokyo earlier this month.

Montedio drew 0-0 with Vissel Kobe at Yamagata.

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