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Monday, March 7, 2011

Antlers salvage point through late own goal

KASHIMA, Ibaraki Pref. (Kyodo) Kashima Antlers launched their campaign of vengeance with yet another draw on Sunday as Oswaldo Oliveira's side was held 3-3 at home by Omiya Ardija in their J. League opener.

News photo
Not over until it's over: Kashima's Yuya Osako (left) and Omiya's Kazuhiro Murakami vie for the ball on Sunday. KYODO PHOTO

Lee Chun Soo's double and a Kota Ueda free kick appeared to have given Omiya its first victory ever at Kashima Stadium, but a 93rd minute own goal by Shusuke Tsubouchi spared the Emperor's Cup holders.

National team defenders Masahiko Inoha and Daiki Iwamasa scored for the former three-time defending champions, who were coming off a 0-0 midweek draw at Shanghai Shenhua in the Asian Champions League.

Oliveira did not attend the post-match press conference. The Antlers manager thought he had been given a red card after the final whistle for complaining to the fourth official, and went home.

Omiya coach Jun Suzuki praised his team after it nearly stunned the J. League's most successful club in their first match of the season.

"The opening match is always important, and I'm proud of our effort today," Suzuki said. "We knew Kashima was going to come at us at full steam in the second half. With the quality they have, they were going to create chances.

"It was a matter of whether we would be able to hang on or not."

Antlers were jeered off the pitch going into the break, following an opening half in which they dominated but failed to convert chances into goals.

In one other J1 game, Popo struck the lone goal in Vissel Kobe's 1-0 home win over Urawa, which failed to mark old boy Zeljko Petrovic's debut as manager with victory.

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