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Monday, Sept. 13, 2010

Grampus maintain lead in J-League with win over Montedio

TENDO, Yamagata Pref. (Kyodo) Nagoya Grampus took another step toward their first J-League championship by beating Montedio Yamagata 1-0 away on Sunday evening, opening up a seven-point lead at the top of the table.

World Cup striker Keiji Tamada scored the lone goal of the match at ND Soft Stadium in the first half as Nagoya pulled away from second-place Cerezo Osaka with their third consecutive victory, improving to 47 points from 22 games.

"We've been playing in the heat recently, but it was a bit chilly today and that kind of made it difficult," the 30-year-old Tamada said of the 21 C temperature in the rain.

"I just happened to be in the right place at the right time," he said of his 27th-minute strike, his seventh of the season.

Magnum's left-wing cross appeared to come off the hand of a Yamagata defender as the Nagoya XI appealed for a penalty. Play did not stop, however, and Tamada took advantage of a split-second lapse in the defense to hit past Montedio keeper Kenta Shimizu.

"I'm glad my goal helped us win tonight," he said

Hosts Montedio dropped their second in a row, remaining on 28 points — seven points clear of the relegation zone. Yamagata have never beaten Nagoya in four meetings, losing to them three times.

Nagoya coach Dragan Stojkovic, a former league MVP with Grampus who fell short of winning the title, said the only team they pay attention to is themselves.

Grampus welcome streaking Yokohama F Marinos to Mizuho Stadium on Saturday. Marinos have won their last three times out, creeping up the standings to sixth place.

"It's important to keep our pace," Stojkovic said. "We don't watch the other teams; we watch ourselves. And we concentrate on each game. We have to concentrate and play very good football to become champions."

"I think it was a very hard game, but we deserved (the win). We played very well. I think we had a few chances to score, but we didn't score. But 1-0 is enough, absolutely."

Elsewhere in J1 Sunday, Robson Ponte converted from the spot in the second half to score for the second straight match as Urawa Reds won 1-0 at FC Tokyo to stretch their unbeaten run to four games.

Reds, who host Shimizu S-Pulse next weekend, are on 31 points with 12 games left in the campaign. Tokyo are only ahead of relegation-threatened Vissel Kobe in 16th on goal difference.

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