Defending champions Kashima Antlers regained the lead in the J-League standings on Sunday with a 2-1 win over Shimizu S-Pulse.
Brazilian striker Marquinhos opened the scoring in the fourth minute courtesy of a Shinzo Koroki pass and Masashi Motoyama added another goal before Shimizu got one back in the second half. "Today's two goals were both beautiful goals produced through combination passes and I'm really happy about them," said Kashima's Brazilian coach Oswaldo Oliveira.
"I think we showed our skills very well. It's good to keep the lead. We still have one more game than the others due to the Champions League, but we are always fighting to stay on the top. Hopefully we can keep playing like this," added Oliveira.
Kashima have seven wins, two draws and one defeat for 23 points - the same as the Urawa Red Diamonds - but Kashima retains first place on a better goal difference. Gamba Osaka and Albirex Niigata trail on 19 points, followed by Nagoya Grampus on 18 points.
Urawa fell 3-2 to Kawasaki Frontale in an exciting game that saw North Korean international Chong Tese strike home the decider in the 76th minute. "We gave them a penalty chance that I've never expected to have and they scored an equalizer.
I feel like it pushed us along the road to a defeat, not to a draw," said Urawa's German coach Volker Finke. "But I think my players did a good performance. It's true that Kawasaki had three or four dangerous attackers, and they did a dangerous performance on the pitch."
In other matches, Osaka trounced Kashiwa Reysol 4-0, while Nagoya managed a 2-2 draw with Vissel Kobe thanks to Tomohiro Tsuda, who scored the equalizer with less than a minute left in injury time.