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Sato spoils Kashima’s party

Kyodo

Yuto Sato struck a superb late winner as modest Kyoto Sanga stunned reigning champions Kashima Antlers 2-1 in the J. League on Wednesday night.

Kashima looked set for a share of the points after Takuya Nozawa’s 22nd-minute strike had canceled out Atsushi Yanagisawa’s header, but Sato picked his spot and unleashed an unstoppable shot from 25 meters to snatch victory five minutes from time.

“They (Kashima) are last year’s champions, they have got quality up front other teams don’t have and can punish you if you switch off even for a minute,” said Kyoto manager Hisashi Kato.

At the midway point of the season, Kashima are top of the table on 31 points.

At the other end of the table, defender Ryota Aoki’s 66th-minute equalizer earned bottom club JEF United Chiba a 2-2 draw at Albirex Niigata while troubled Yokohama F Marinos went down 1-0 at Vissel Kobe, Kim Nam Il settling the match on the hour mark. Consadole Sapporo against Oita Trinita finished goalless.