Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cellar dwellers JEF United stun league leaders Kashima Antlers as J. League resumes

Kashima Antlers.
Bottom club JEF United stunned table topping Kashima Antlers as the J. League resumed following the week-long All-Star break, winning 3-1 at a packed Fukuda Denshi Arena in Chiba.

Australian defender Eddy Bosnar opened the scoring for United with a thunderbolt free-kick just before half-time, but it was talismanic striker Seiichiro Maki who stole the show, steering home two superb headers after the interval. His goals made Masashi Motoyama's well-taken header redundant, as the Antlers paid the price for fielding an under-strength starting eleven.

The win delighted United's Glaswegian coach Alex Miller, who paid tribute to his side's determination following a win that draws United level on points with second-from-bottom Consadole Sapporo.

Elsewhere Urawa Reds were held to a 2-2 draw by Kashiwa Reysol in front of 46,981 fans at Saitama Stadium, with both teams scoring in the final minute of the game.

Winger Minoru Suganuma opened the scoring for Reysol, however the Sun Kings were pegged back by an equaliser from Japan international Yuki Abe. Yuichiro Nagai looked to have handed Urawa all three points, however ex-Bayer Leverkusen striker Franca salvaged a point for Reysol as he came off the bench to equalise just seconds after Nagai's goal.

High-flying Nagoya Grampus were beaten 1-0 at home by FC Tokyo in front of 12,269 fans at Mizuho Athletics Stadium, with former Heracles Almelo striker Sota Hirayama scoring the only goal of the game.

In a day of upsets new Yokohama F. Marinos coach Kokichi Kimura registered his first win in the Japanese top flight as the Kanagawa outfit beat Gamba Osaka 2-1 in front of 24,711 fans at Nissan Stadium, with strikers Hideo Oshima and Daisuke Sakata scoring either side of a Takahiro Futagawa strike.

Elsewhere in a full round of fixtures Consadole Sapporo were beaten 2-1 at home by Omiya Ardija, Tokyo Verdy hammered Albirex Niigata 4-0 at Ajinomoto Stadium, Oita Trinita clawed back a two goal deficit to draw 2-2 with Shimizu S-Pulse, Jubilo Iwata went down 1-0 to Vissel Kobe in front of a near-capacity crowd at Yamaha Stadium and Kyoto Sanga FC were also beaten 2-1 at home by visitors Kawasaki Frontale.

League Cup semi-finalists decided

The four Nabisco League Cup semi-finalists were decided after the second-leg of quarter-finals took place on August 6.

Struggling Shimizu S-Pulse booked their place thanks to a pulsating 2-1 win over Kashima Antlers at Nihondaira Stadium, as defender Keisuke Iwashita and midfielder Akihiro Hyodo handed the Shizuoka side a commanding two-goal lead. Former S-Pulse striker Marquinhos pulled a goal back for Kashima, but despite battering the Shimizu defence late on, the Ibaraki outfit were unable to conjure a second goal that would have seen them claim an away-goal win, following a 0-0 draw in the first leg of this tie.

Defending champions Gamba Osaka booked their place in the final four on away goals, losing 2-1 away at Yokohama F. Marinos but advancing thanks to their 1-0 win in the first leg in Kanazawa.

Nagoya Grampus beat JEF United 1-0 in both legs of their quarter-final to book their place in the last four of the competition, while southern upstarts Oita Trinita are the final League Cup semi-finalist, having seen off FC Tokyo in the last eight.

The semi-finals will take place on September 3 and 7, with Shimizu S-Pulse facing off against Gamba Osaka, while Nagoya Grampus take on Oita Trinita as the four sides aim to book an afternoon out at the National Stadium in Tokyo in November.

Japan make losing start to the Olympics

Yasuharu Sorimachi's under-23 side made a losing start at the Beijing Olympics, going down 1-0 to the United States in steamy conditions at Tianjin Stadium.

Houston Dynamo midfielder Stuart Holden scored the only goal of the game just after half-time in front of over 57,000 fans in Tianjin, with Japan now needing to beat Nigeria in their next group game on August 10 to have any chance of progression to the knock-out stages.

Meanwhile the Japan women's team were held to a 2-2 draw in their opening match against New Zealand, although they had to do things the hard way as Kristy Yallop and an Amber Hearn penalty sent New Zealand into a commanding two-goal lead. They were pegged back by an Aya Miyama penalty before Nadeshiko legend Homare Sawa equalised with four minutes remaining.

The United States did the double over Japan when their women's team beat Nadeshiko Japan 1-0 on August 9, with Carli Lloyd scoring the only goal. Japan must now beat the already-qualified Norway by a large margin and hope that results elsewhere go their way to have any hopes of progressing beyond the group stage.

Copyright © Michael Tuckerman & Soccerphile.com

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