The Kashima Antlers scored a bittersweet victory Wednesday night in the A3 Mazda Champions Cup.

News photoKashima forward Euller scores past Jubilo defender Hideto Suzuki during the A3 Mazda Champions Cup match at Tokyo’s National Stadium.

The J. League Nabisco Cup winning side downed J. League champion Jubilo Iwata 2-0 at Tokyo’s National Stadium to take the lead in the inaugural four-team competition but Japan striker Atsushi Yanagisawa was injured after suffering a ligament injury at the end of the match.

Jubilo’s hopes for the Asian title here were crushed after its second scoreless loss.

On Saturday, the final day of the tournament, Kashima plays South Korea League champion Seongnam Ilhwa (currently in second place) while Chinese League champion Dalian Shide (third place) meets Jubilo at the same venue.

“We were more determined to get a win and we were a little stronger than our opponents. The match went according to our plans but we had a sad moment at the end of the game,” Kashima manager Toninho Cerezo said. “I really hope that Yanagisawa will be O.K. for the next game.”

Yanagisawa was tackled from behind by a young Jubilo player and was carried off the pitch immediately.

Kashima went ahead in the ninth minute when Brazilian forward Euller got a pass from Mitsuo Ogasawara and drove up on the left before neatly lobbing the ball over the head of Jubilo goalkeeper Hiromasa Yamamoto into the goal.

In the 75th minute, Euller attacked on the right flank to cross a ball in for his countryman Fernando. Yamamoto blocked the midfielder’s shot, but Yanagisawa sent the rebound home with a fine chip kick.

Following Sunday’s 2-0 loss to Seongnam, Jubilo manager Masaaki Yanagishita fielded an experimental side, resting three veteran players — striker Masashi Nakayama, midfielders Hiroshi Nanami and Toshihiro Hattori — and filling the holes with Kawaguchi, Aleksandar Zivkovic and Brazilian forward Gral.

Yanagishita also sent young forwards Ryoichi Maeda and Yasumasa Nishino in from the bench later in the second half, but Iwata failed to make a serious threat.

“It’s a shame to see this result. But we played better than our first game and I hope we can get better in the next game,” Yanagishita said.

Asked about the tackle on Yanagisawa, the Iwata manager replied, “I admit the tackle came from behind. But the player is still young and he just tried to reach the ball. I feel sorry for Yanagisawa but I won’t criticize our player.”

Star out for month

KASHIMA (Kyodo) Kashima Antlers and Japan striker Atsushi Yanagisawa will be out of action for a month after sustaining a knee injury in the East Asian Champions Cup, Kashima officials said Thursday.

The 25-year-old was stretchered off the pitch in the late stages of Kashima’s 2-0 win over Jubilo Iwata on Wednesday after a crude challenge from substitute Yasumasa Nishino left him with twisted joints and damaged ligaments in his left knee.

Yanagisawa, who scored the second goal in an ill-tempered match at National Stadium, underwent tests at a Tokyo hospital Thursday and was told by doctors he will need around four weeks to fully recover.

Elsewhere, Shimizu S-Pulse defender Toshihide Saito will miss most of the first stage of the upcoming J. League season after rupturing cruciate ligaments in his right knee in a practice match Thursday.

The 29-year-old Saito, who has been capped 19 times for Japan, is expected to be sidelined for approximately five months.

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