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Free-falling Grampus’ winless streak reaches 14 games

by

Staff Writer

Nagoya Grampus slipped further into relegation trouble after a 0-0 draw with Yokohama F. Marinos on Saturday that extended the 2010 J. League champions’ winless streak to 14 games.

Grampus — one of only three teams, along with Marinos and Kashima Antlers, to have played every season in the first division since the J. League was formed in 1993 — went into the match second-bottom in the overall table and dead last in the second-stage standings with only one point from five games.

And Takafumi Ogura’s side’s luck never looked like changing on a stiflingly humid night at Nissan Stadium, as Marinos dominated from start to finish but failed to land the killer blow that would have heaped even more pressure on Nagoya’s increasingly beleaguered manager.

“We wanted three points today, but to get one from an away game against Marinos and not concede any goals was one of the things we were looking for,” said Ogura, who took over at the start of the season and also serves as the club’s general manager.

“In attack we didn’t have much accuracy or creativity and we didn’t make many chances. Given the circumstances, a point is not a bad result.

“We’re in a relegation battle. That’s the reality of the situation. We have to start picking up points, and one was the minimum requirement today. It’s often said that you need 40 points to be safe, so I want to get the remaining 21 as soon as possible.”

Grampus have not won in the league since they beat Marinos 3-1 on May 4, but Swedish striker Robin Simovic insists the team is fully united behind Ogura.

“Of course we are behind him,” said the 199-cm striker, who has scored nine goals this season. “We are a team together and he supports us and we support him.

“Even if we are down in the standings, we believe in ourselves. It’s a good atmosphere. Everybody knows that we can do it — we just have to show it more on the field and get more points.”

Marinos controlled the first half but failed to seriously trouble Seigo Narazaki in the Grampus goal, with long-range efforts from Quenten Martinus and Manabu Saito the best they could muster.

The home side picked up the tempo after the restart and was almost rewarded when Curacao forward Martinus slid a shot just wide of the post after another penetrating run from Saito.

Kayke also tried his luck from distance as Marinos turned the screw on the visitors, but Kensuke Nagai almost stunned the home side when he found himself through on goal in the 68th minute in a rare Grampus foray forward.

Takashi Kanai almost won it for Marinos when he smashed a shot into the side-netting deep into injury time, but instead the final whistle brought a point for each team and a third straight draw for Yokohama.

“It’s simple,” said Marinos manager Erick Mombaerts. “We controlled the game, had a lot of possession and made a lot of chances. But unfortunately we couldn’t put the ball in the net.

“The players gave their all until the final whistle. I want to be positive and say that we’ve earned a point tonight.”

Elsewhere in the J. League, Kawasaki Frontale stayed top of both the overall and second-stage tables after a 3-2 win over Shonan Bellmare, while second-place Urawa Reds beat Ventforet Kofu 2-0 to stay five points behind in the overall standings.

Third-place Antlers lost ground after a 1-0 home loss to Sagan Tosu, while goals from Ryoichi Kurisawa and Diego Oliveira rallied Kashiwa Reysol to a 2-1 win over Jubilo Iwata.

FC Tokyo began life under new manager Yasuyuki Shinoda with a 1-0 victory over Albirex Niigata, Gamba Osaka beat defending champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-0, and Avispa Fukuoka and Vegalta Sendai drew 1-1.

In the day’s other game, a 55th-minute goal from Shunki Takahashi gave Vissel Kobe a 1-0 win over Omiya Ardija.