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F. Marinos open up lead in J. League top flight

Yokohama F. Marinos maintained its remarkable early season form Tuesday, opening up a two-point lead at the top of the J. League first division after a 2-1 win at Oita Trinita.

News photoAvispa Fukuoka’s Kohei Miyazaki (right) competes for the ball with Masayuki Omori of Nagoya Grampus Eight during a J. League match in Fukuoka.

Defender Yuzo Kurihara and midfielder Norihisa Shimizu scored first-half goals from set pieces at Kyushu Oil Dome to help F. Marinos keep its 100 percent record four games into the new season.

Kurihara opened the scoring after four minutes with a right-foot shot on a Dutra free kick from the right and the Brazilian also played a part in Yokohma’s second goal when Shimizu bundled the ball home on the half-hour mark.

Defender Yuichi Shibakoya pulled one back for the home side with a 79th-minute header, but the F Marinos defense held out.

Urawa Reds stayed within two points of the leader after a comfortable 3-0 home win over bottom club Cerezo Osaka, Shinji Ono, Washington and Marcus Tulio Tanaka on target in the second half.

Ono put Urawa ahead when he volleyed home from 20 meters out in the 48th minute for his first goal since returning from Dutch side Feyenoord, before Washington rifled in the second from just outside the box 10 minutes later.

Washington then turned provider in the 80th minute, chesting down a loose ball around the penalty spot for Tulio to beat goalkeeper Motohiro Yoshida with a low drive. Japan international Alessandro Santos should have scored the fourth a minute later but he hit the post with only Yoshida to beat.

Shimizu S-Pulse, level on points with F. Marinos before Saturday’s games, suffered a shock 2-1 defeat at home to JEF United Chiba. Substitute Naotake Hanyu struck the winner two minutes from time after Yuki Abe and Marquinhos found the net in the first half.

Elsewhere, defender Atsuto Uchida scored a goal and set up another as Kashima Antlers ran out a 3-1 winner at home to promoted Ventforet Kofu. At Avispa Fukuoka, Japan forward Keiji Tamada converted a late penalty to snatch a 1-0 away win for Nagoya Grampus Eight.

Jubilo Iwata defeated Albirex Niigata 2-0 away for its first win of the season, while Kawasaki Frontale drew 2-2 with visiting FC Tokyo. The game between Kyoto Purple Sanga and Sanfrecce Hiroshima also ended in 2-2 draw.

Defending champions Gamba Osaka, which play in the first round of the Asian Champions League on Wednesday, will host Omiya Ardija on March 29.