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J-League Round-Up: Nagoya Grampus Thump Shimizu S-Pulse, Alberto Zaccheroni Casts Watchful Eye

It was a difficult round for J-League referees on a weekend that saw major controversy in two important games.

Nagoya Grampus meanwhile regained a seven point lead over second-placed Kashima Antlers, while Gamba Osaka climbed to third spot and Kyoto Sanga FC now seemed doomed to relagation.

Shimizu S-Pulse 1-5 Nagoya Grampus

Grampus are leading the table with a considerable advantage over reigning champions Kashima Antlers, though they are still ten games away from their first J-League title.

The Nagoya side struggled in the first half in Shimizu, where S-Pulse dominated even after losing Jungo Fujimoto.

The hosts even took the lead early in the second half only to see Nagoya stage a spectacular comeback, Australia international Josh Kennedy netting a brace and his attacking partner Keiji Tamada scoring the second hat-trick of his career.

Kawasaki Frontale 1-2 Gamba Osaka

Japan international Junichi Inamoto faced former employers Gamba Osaka, the club where he grew up before moving to Europe in 2001.

Defender Sota Nakazawa gave the visitors the lead with his third goal in as many games but the scores were quickly levelled courtesy of a great solo effort by Masaru Kurotsu.

It took a deflected goal by Lucas in the 86th minute to break the deadlock, though there were complaints from the Frontale side after the referee had misjudged a call, not awarding a corner kick to the home side a few seconds before Lucas’ effort.

With Japan boss Alberto Zaccheroni watching, Gamba’a youngster Takashi Usami had a good game but no luck as he first hit the post and then missed an easy chance.

FC Tokyo 0-1 Omiya Ardija

It was a new coach but familiar result for struggling FC Tokyo, with only half-chances for the home side as they suffered a disastrous defeat.

Omiya Ardija were rather more clinical, Brazilian striker Rafael having a goal incorrectly chalked off after the ball had crossed the line.

Justice was done when he delivered a clinical cross for 23 year-old rookie Jun Kanakubo, who headed the ball beyond Shuichi Gonda.

The capital team is without a win in ten league games and in serious danger of relegation.

Zaccheroni Watching

For the Japanese players, this was the last chance to impress national team manager Alberto Zaccheroni, who has been spotted in almost every Japanese stadium since his arrival.

He is set to name his squad for the upcoming friendly match against Argentina and the Italian manager would have been impressed by the quality the football he's watched so far and the high number of young prospects available to him.

However if he wanted to see something truly special he would have needed to go to Yokohama, where second division outfit Yokohama FC beat Kataller Toyama 4-1; the last goal for the home side was scored by Kazuyoshi Miura at a record age of 43 years and seven months.

Other results:

Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-1 Kashima Antlers
Vissel Kobe 0-0 Cerezo Osaka
Urawa Red Diamonds 2-0 Albirex Niigata
Yamagata 1-1 Shonan Bellmare
Kyoto Sanga FC 0-1 Jubilo Iwata
Kawasaki Frontale 1-2 Gamba Osaka
Yokohama F. Marinos 0-1 Vegalta Sendai

1st. Nagoya Grampus, 51pts, 2nd. Kashima Antlers, 44pts, 3rd. Gamab Osaka, 43pts, 4th. Cerezo Osaka, 41pts

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