Ardija stay alive in Nabisco Cup


Naoki Ishihara struck a last-gasp winner as Omiya Ardija beat Cerezo Osaka 2-1 at home Saturday to keep alive their chances of advancing to the quarterfinals in the J. League Nabisco Cup.

Ishihara pounced on sloppy Cerezo defending to knock the ball home in the fourth minute of injury time at NACK 5 Stadium.

Earlier, Kazuhiro Murakami gave Omiya a 21st-minute lead before Yusuke Maruhashi notched the equalizer in the 70th minute.

Omiya moved up to third place in Group A on seven points, four behind leaders Kyoto Sanga and two behind Vegalta Sendai.

Kyoto is away to FC Tokyo on Sunday. FC Tokyo and Albirex Niigata also have seven points each.

On Wednesday, the last day of the first round, Omiya hosts Sendai, which was held to a scoreless draw at home by Nagoya Grampus on Saturday.

Only the top two from each of the two seven-team groups advance to the quarterfinals to be played over two legs in September.

They will be joined by Kashima Antlers, Kawasaki Frontale, Gamba Osaka and Sanfrecce Hiroshima, who all got byes into the last eight due to their involvement in the Asian Champions League.

The two-legged semifinals will be played on Sept. 29 and Oct. 10, with the final scheduled for Nov. 3.

In Group B, goals from Yuzo Tashiro, Masaru Akiba and Chikashi Masuda gave Montedio Yamagata a 3-0 home win over Shonan Bellmare.

Yamagata drew level on 10 points with Jubilo Iwata atop the group table.

Iwata visits Shimizu S-Pulse on Sunday.

In Saturday’s other match, Manabu Saito scored the first goal of his professional career 15 minutes from time to earn Yokohama F. Marinos a 1-1 draw away to Vissel Kobe.