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Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011

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Good start: Gamba Osaka's Rafinha celebrates scoring the opening goal against Nagoya Grampus on Tuesday in Osaka. The match ended in a 2-2 draw. KYODO

Grampus rally keeps defending champions atop standings


OSAKA — Josh Kennedy leveled five minutes from time as Nagoya Grampus came from behind twice to earn a 2-2 draw away to Gamba Osaka on Wednesday to stay top of the table in the J. League.

Defending champion Nagoya extended its unbeaten streak to 16 matches and moved to 43 points, two points clear of Gamba and Kashiwa Reysol.

Kennedy scored his 11th goal of the season on a right-foot shot when Keiji Tamada chested the ball down to the Australian striker at Expo Stadium.

"I think it was really a fantastic game," said Nagoya manager Dragan Stojkovic. "Four goals. Many chances. Everything that two teams can do during a game, we did it. I think the audience today can be very satisfied with what they saw.

"This is a very strong point of Nagoya. We won one point. This is very important for us to be unbeaten for 16 games. An away game against Gamba Osaka is always tough."

Rafinha opened the scoring in first-half injury time.

Igor Burzanovic scored an equalizer in the 56th minute just before being substituted by rookie livewire Kensuke Nagai.

Kim Seung Yong put Gamba ahead again 18 minutes later when Lee Keun Ho's header deflected off Nagoya goalkeeper Yoshinari Takagi.

In the day's other match, Kashima Antlers came back from a goal down to win 2-1 at home to Cerezo Osaka.

Kashima moved up to sixth place, while Cerezo were still sitting in 14th place in the 18-team table."

Maki joins Tokyo Verdy


Former Japan forward Seiichiro Maki has joined Tokyo Verdy, the J. League second-division club said Wednesday.

Maki moved to Russian Premier League club Amkar Perm from J2 side JEF United Chiba in the summer of 2010 before going to former Japan coach Philippe Troussier's Chinese side Shenzhen Ruby this past April.

"It's a team with a chance to earn promotion to the top flight," the 31-year-old said of Tokyo Verdy. "I hope to make use of my experiences and contribute to the team."

Maki played for Japan at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

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