Brazilian striker Gral headed in an injury-time equalizer as defending champion Jubilo Iwata scraped a 1-1 draw at Gamba Osaka in the J. League on Saturday.
Unfashionable JEF United Ichihara romped to a 4-0 win at Oita Trinita to maintain its 100 percent record after two games while Kashima Antlers also have a maximum six points after a sublime piece of skill from Mitsuo Ogasawara gave his side a 2-1 win at Kashiwa Reysol.
Iwata, which sealed an unprecedented two-stage double last year, slumped to a 4-2 loss in the opening game of the season at home to Yokohama F. Marinos and looked set for a second straight defeat despite dominating the game at Expo Stadium.
Masashi Oguro put the home side in front against the run of play just before the hour after beating the offside trap and slipping the ball under Dutch ‘keeper Arno Van Zwam.
Jubilo wasted a number of chances and veteran striker Masashi Nakayama also had an effort ruled out for offside before Gral earned a point deep into injury time with a header from close range.
In Kyushu, Ichihara swept aside last season’s second-division champion in its first home game in the top flight, with three goals in the first 37 minutes — from Choi Yong Soo, an own goal, and Sandro — killing the game as a contest. Daisuke Saito added the fourth a minute from time.
Title contender Kashima needed to come from behind as Brazilian Ricardinho mugged Koji Nakata before firing home from just outside the area to put Kashiwa in front on 18 minutes.
But Fernando leveled for Kashima from a well-worked free-kick five minutes after the break, and Japan midfielder Ogasawara sealed all three points for the Ibaraki outfit by lifting an exquisite chip over the head of Kashiwa keeper Yuta Minami in the 63rd minute.
Elsewhere, Cerezo Osaka threw away a two-goal halftime lead but still managed to beat Shimizu S-Pulse 5-4.
Japan Under-22 international Yoshito Okubo struck twice and Baron also scored as Cerezo went 3-1 up at the break before Shimizu hit back with three goals in 19 minutes at the start of the second half through Hideaki Kitajima, Ryuzo Morioka and Alessandro Santos.
However, Baron grabbed a second against his old club in the 76th minute to level the scores and five minutes later former Japan striker Akinori Nishizawa popped up to seal all three points.
A 71st-minute header by Hisato Sato canceled out Marquinhos’ opener as Vegalta Sendai held Yokohama F. Marinos to a 1-1 draw at International Stadium Yokohama.
In the Tokyo derby at Ajinomoto Stadium, a 69th-minute penalty by Brazilian midfielder Ramon and an injury-time goal by Kazunori Iio gave Tokyo Verdy a 2-1 win over FC Tokyo, which got a late consolation through substitute Yuta Baba.
PARMA, Italy (Kyodo) Japan midfielder Hidetoshi Nakata will not be able to take part in Saturday’s Serie A match at home to AC Milan because of an injury to his left ankle, Parma team doctor Massimo Manara said Friday.
Nakata, who played in an international friendly against Uruguay last week in Tokyo, sustained the injury after resuming training in Parma and according to Manara is currently suffering from swelling in his ankle and waiting for the results of his MRI tests.
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