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Saturday, Sep. 24, 2011

Poised Grampus rally past Vissel


NAGOYA — Nagoya Grampus kept the pressure on J. League leaders Gamba Osaka with a come-from behind 3-1 win over visiting Vissel Kobe on Friday.

News photo
Satisfying: Vissel's Park Kang Jo celebrates his goal against Grampus on Friday in their J. League match in Nagoya. Nagoya beat Kobe 3-1. KYODO

Grampus fell behind to an early header from Park Kang Jo, but Marcus Tulio Tanaka leveled and Jungo Fujimoto scored with a peach of a strike before Josh Kennedy added a late third to earn the champions their first win in three matches.

Dragan Stojkovic's men improved to 53 points with seven games of the campaign remaining, one behind Gamba, who are at home to relegation-haunted Ventforet Kofu on Saturday.

"We had a very bad first half and the most important thing is that we got back after one zero," said Stojkovic.

"In the second half we changed completely our pace and we started to play our football and I think that we deserved to win."

"Every game is important now. I think that we deserved three points and we achieved our goal and this is very good indication for the last seven games. We have to keep our pace and do our best and we will see in the end," he said.

Still licking their wounds after being humiliated 4-0 at home to Kashiwa Reysol last weekend, Kobe took the lead after just four minutes thanks to some fine work from Takahito Soma.

Soma dispossessed former Urawa Reds teammate Tulio and sped down to the left flank before sending over a pinpoint cross for Park to score with a diving header at the far post.

But the visitors' joy proved short lived as Tulio made amends to make it all square on 10 minutes, the Brazilian-born defender connecting with Yoshizumi Ogawa's cross to send a free header past Kenta Tokushige.

"The only good thing was that we won," said Tulio. "We need to use the space behind defenses and keep things simple. We are making things difficult for ourselves."

Poor defending by Danilson provided Yoshito Okubo with the chance to put Kobe back in front on 28 minutes, the former Japan striker beating the offside trap, only to fire straight at Seigo Narazaki.

Kobe were the better of the two teams in the first period and Narazaki then produced a super save from Botti's free kick after Fujimoto became the second Grampus player to go into referee Itaru Hirose's book for bringing down Okubo just outside the box.

But Grampus went in front just after the hour mark when Fujimoto unleashed a superb strike into the top corner from just outside the area, and Kennedy wrapped up the points with a league-leading 15th goal of the season.

Tokushige did well to palm Kennedy's header onto the post following a pinpoint cross from substitute Kensuke Nagai, but the Australian striker was on hand to tap the ball over the line four minutes from time.

"The ball dropped a bit because of the wind but I like those kind of goals and I am glad I could score," Fujimoto said of his goal.

In the day's only other game, Cerezo Osaka warmed up for next week's Asian Champions League quarterfinal second leg away to South Korea's Jeonbuk Motors by thrashing struggling Montedio Yamagata 6-0 at home, with in-form Ryuji Bando among six different players to get on the scoresheet.

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