NAGOYA – Norwegian international striker Frode Johnsen bagged his first goal of the season as Nagoya Grampus Eight continued their perfect start to the 2007 campaign with a 2-0 win at home to Albirex Niigata in the J. League first division on Sunday.
Johnsen, who turned 33 on Saturday, headed in Keita Sugimoto’s cross to put Nagoya in front after 34 minutes and South Korean midfielder Kim Jung Woo notched his third goal in as many games to make the points safe 20 minutes from time.
Nagoya’s win puts it top of the table ahead of Gamba Osaka, the only other team with a maximum nine points from three games. Gamba beat Sanfrecce Hiroshima 3-0 on Saturday night.
“The first goal came at a good time for us and after that we were able to settle down,” said Nagoya manager Sef Vergoossen. “I think we have become much more organized in defense and the players showed a lot of character.”
Niigata’s first defeat of the campaign leaves the team in 14th place.
Meanwhile, Jubilo Iwata climbed into seventh after they beat FC Tokyo 1-0 away with 10 men.
Iwata had Brazilian midfielder Fabricio sent off after 37 minutes, but with Japan coach Ivica Osim watching from the stands Jubilo ‘keeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi pulled off a series of excellent saves on his season debut and Hideto Suzuki snatched a late winner with a glancing header from Kota Ueda’s inswinging free-kick.
The league takes a break for Japan’s friendly against Peru in Yokohama on Saturday and resumes on March 31.