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Wednesday, 24th August 2011
In Japan Sports News, Sports,

Osaka take advantage of Nagoya slip-up to top J-League

Gamba Osaka have moved to the top of the J-League after taking advantage of Nagoya Grampus' first loss in 16 games.

The Osaka-based club beat Kawasaki Frontale 6-3 and, in doing so, dished out their beleaguered opponents' fourth consecutive defeat.

Gamba's new Brazilian signing Rafinha has already proved to be an astute acquisition by manager Akira Nishino; he rewarded the coach's confidence by scoring a hat-trick in the game and therefore bringing his goal total to seven in four games.

Grampus' loss, at the hands of Vegalta Sendai, represents the team's first loss in the J-League since July, when they were defeated by Suwon Bluewings.

This Saturday's 1-0 result, at the Nagoya-based Mizuho Athletic Stadium, means that the team slips down to third place and may fall further, depending on the results of today's (August 24th) matches.

The only goal of the game against Vegalta Sendai was scored by midfielder Noaki Sugai early in the first half.

Dragan Stojkovic, Nagoya's Serbian manager, told ESPN that the busy J-League fixture list was partly to blame for their defeat, but noted that some positives could be taken from their performance in the match.

"It was not a good result, but we played well. It was not Grampus' day. Our players looked very tired because of the very hard schedule, and I was really afraid of that before the game," he said.

"This is our first defeat at home this season, but I am not too disappointed. We played well in the second half and had many chances but couldn't score."

Nagoya Grampus' rivals Kashiwa Reysol also took advantage of the coastal city's team's failure to win as a 3-2 home victory over Avispa Fukuoka meant they moved up to second place in the J-League.

The top four teams in Japan's top division are now only separated by only one point, with Gamba Osaka and Kashiwa Reysol on 34 and Nagoya Grampus on 33 with fourth-placed Yokohama F Marinos.

Written by Mark Smith  

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