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Akiba powers Yamagata past JEF

TENDO, Yamagata Pref. (Kyodo) Masaru Akiba snatched a late winner as promoted Montedio Yamagata beat JEF United Chiba 1-0 to climb into fourth in the J. League on Sunday.

Chiba wasted a handful of opportunities in a scrappy affair at NDsoft Stadium, and the visitors were made to pay dearly as Akiba popped up to bury the decider three minutes from time.

Victory saw modest Yamagata join heavyweights Gamba Osaka, Urawa Reds and Nagoya Grampus on seven points from four games, three behind surprise early pacesetter Albirex Niigata.

In Sunday’s only other game, Shinji Okazaki’s 63rd-minute header proved decisive as Shimizu S-Pulse edged Vissel Kobe 1-0 away to pick up its first league win.