• Kyodo


Yokohama F. Marinos gained vital ground on runaway first-division leaders Kashima Antlers on Wednesday as a second-half goal from Japan international Yuji Nakazawa gave the defending J. League champions a 2-1 home win.

Yokohama fell behind to a Daiki Iwamasa header early on but came roaring back as headers from Hideo Oshima and defender Nakazawa handed Kashima only its second loss of the season.

Elsewhere, Gamba Osaka stayed in second after a late 2-1 win at Sanfrecce Hiroshima while 2004 league runnerup Urawa Reds handed troubled Tokyo Verdy its second seven-goal defeat in five days to climb into third.

With 14 matches played, Kashima leads the table with 32 points with Gamba seven points adrift after Brazilian Araujo scored twice to move atop the scoring charts, his headed winner coming in the last minute at Big Arch.

Four goals in 12 second-half minutes including a double from Tadaaki Hirakawa helped Urawa climb into third on 23 points with a 7-0 thrashing over Verdy, which was hammered 7-1 at Gamba on Saturday.

Yokohama is fourth another point behind with Hiroshima dropping to fifth on 21.

At Nissan Stadium, Kashima took advantage of slack defending from Nakazawa to race into the lead when defender Iwamasa rose to power home unmarked from a Mitsuo Ogasawara corner in the fifth minute.

Japan midfielder Ogasawara almost let in Yokohama for an equalizer in the 14th minute when he was muscled off the ball by Daisuke Nasu but Kashima ‘keeper Hitoshi Sogahata made a brave save at the feet of the Athens Olympian.

There was little Sogahata could do about Yokohama’s equalizer on the half hour, though, as Oshima stooped to bury Masahiro Ohashi’s pinpoint cross from the right for his seventh goal of the season.

Yokohama began to take control of the match and only a string of fine stops from Sogahata prevented Takeshi Okada’s men from taking the lead as they stepped upped the pace after the interval.

The pressure finally paid dividends when Nakazawa, who has just signed a deal that will keep him at the club until 2009, gave Yokohama a deserved three points when he lost his marker and crashed home Dutra’s corner in the 64th minute.

In other games, Jubilo Iwata overpowered Omiya Ardija 2-0 away thanks to goals from Norihiro Nishi and Japan Under-20 striker Bobby Cullen while Cerezo Osaka beat visiting JEF United Chiba by the same scoreline.

At the foot of the table, rock-bottom Vissel Kobe twice came from behind but was sunk by a late goal from Edmilson in a 3-2 loss away to Albirex Niigata while Kashiwa Reysol and Oita Trinita finished 0-0.

FC Tokyo’s match away to 10-man Kawasaki Frontale also finished goalless while Shimizu S-Pulse against Nagoya Garmpus Eight ended in a 2-2 draw.

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