JEF United Ichihara maintained its perfect start to the J. League second stage with a 2-1 win over Gamba Osaka on Saturday.

News photoShimizu S-Pulse defender Shohei
Ikeda battles Jubilo Iwata forward Gral for the control of the
ball during their J. League match Saturday at Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa. Jubilo won 1-0.

Meanwhile, defending champion Jubilo Iwata recorded its first victory after beating Shimizu S-Pulse 1-0 in the Shizuoka Prefecture derby but Yokohama F. Marinos had to settle for a point after a 1-1 draw at Oita Trinita.

In Chiba Prefecture, Brazilian striker Sandro latched onto a clever pass from South Korean star Choi Yong Soo to fire Ichihara in front on 16 minutes before Zeljko Milinovic doubled the lead 11 minutes after the break.

Gamba spurned a host of decent chances before Magrao finally found the target on 67 minutes to take his tally for the season to 10, but Ichihara held on to record a maximum six points from two games of the stage played.

Kashiwa Reysol was the only other team with two wins out of two after Keiji Tamada struck the only goal of the game in a 1-0 victory at winless Cerezo Osaka.

At Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa, Iwata bounced back from last week’s 3-1 loss to Urawa Reds courtesy of a 79th-minute winner from league-leading goal scorer Rodrigo Gral while Yokohama was denied all three points as Sandro grabbed a last minute equalizer for Oita.

In other games, Nagoya Grampus Eight beat FC Tokyo 3-2 at home while Kyoto and Urawa finished in a scoreless draw.

Asian qualifiers set

The Asian qualifiers for the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany will begin next January, the Asian Football Confederation said on Saturday.

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