SUITA, Osaka Pref. – Urawa Reds striker Yuichiro Nagai left Gamba Osaka’s proud home record in tatters by striking the only goal of the game as the Reds emerged 1-0 winners in a top-of-the-table clash in the J. League on Wednesday.
Urawa had been second best for the majority of an entertaining contest but Nagai snatched a priceless three points against the run of play when he swept home a Robson Ponte pass from 20 meters at Expo Stadium.
Third-placed Kashima Antlers moved within eight points of Gamba after Mitsuo Ogasawara struck twice and sealed Antlers’ 3-1 win over JEF United Chiba in his first home game since returning home from an unhappy spell at Italian league side Messina.
Edmilson took his tally for the season to 12 with a second-half double as Albirex Niigata hammered Nagoya Grampus Eight 4-0 to remain in fourth while Koji Yamase and Hideo Oshima proved the difference again as Yokohama F. Marinos won their second local derby in quick succession with a 2-1 defeat of Kawasaki Frontale.
At the other end of the table, there was more grief for first-division whipping boys Yokohama FC, whose 2-0 defeat at home to Ventforet Kofu kept them rooted to the foot of the table.
However Yokohama could take a shred of comfort in the fact that fellow basement dwellers Omiya Ardija and Oita Trinita both lost. Omiya went down 3-1 at home to Vissel Kobe while Oita lost a seven-goal thriller to Shimizu S-Pulse 4-3 at Kyushu Oil Dome.
Elsewhere, Franca scored one and created the other as Kashiwa Reysol sentenced Sanfrecce Hiroshima to their fifth defeat in a row with a 2-0 win in Chiba Prefecture while Yoshiaki Ota put Jubilo Iwata on the way to a 5-2 win over FC Tokyo at Yamaha Stadium.
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