NEWCASTLE, Australia – Nagoya Grampus stayed firmly on course for a place in the knockout stage of the Asian Champions League with a hard-fought 1-0 win away to Australia’s Newcastle Jets on Wednesday.
Kashima Antlers also won to boost Japan’s chances of having all four of its representatives in the last 16, the J. League champions romping to a 5-0 win at home to Singapore Armed Forces. Holders Gamba Osaka and Kawasaki Frontale both won to qualify for the knockout phase on Tuesday.
Yoshizumi Ogawa and Japan goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki were Nagoya’s heroes in a tightly contested encounter at Energy Australia Stadium, Ogawa striking the winner in the 57th minute before Narazaki saved Sasho Petrovski’s penalty to keep Grampus top of Group E.
With two games of the group phase remaining, Grampus have eight points, four clear of Newcastle and Chinese club Beijing Guoan, which was playing South Korea’s Ulsan Hyundai in a later match.
Newcastle, which held Grampus 1-1 in the previous round of matches, made a lively start and should have taken advantage of poor defending to go in front on eight minutes.
Fabio Vignaroli whipped a free kick into the box and Angelo Costanzo lost his marker only to send a free header well wide of the mark.
Newcastle lost possession in midfield and Keita Sugimoto scurried down the right flank and crossed for Ogawa to rifle past Tarek Elrich from close range.
The home side squandered a glorious chance to equalize 13 minutes from time when Petrovski was adjudged to have been fouled by Milos Bajalica in the box.
The substitute striker dusted himself off to take the spot kick but his weak effort was easily gathered by Narazaki and Nagoya held firm to take the points.
At Kashima Stadium, goals from Takuya Nozawa, Shinzo Koroki (two), Mitsuo Ogasawara and Yuya Osako gave Antlers an easy victory and put them on nine points at the top of Group G.
Kashima leads on goal difference ahead of South Korea’s Suwon Bluewings, who beat China’s Shanghai Shenhua 2-1.
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