Kashima keep J.League lead

Kashima Antlers forward Shinzo Koroki scored twice to lead the defending champions to a 2-1 victory over Kashiwa Reysol and maintain their place at the top of the J.League. Koroki nodded home on a Mitsuo Ogasawara free kick in the eighth minute and three minutes later followed up with a left-footer from close range, again on an Ogasawara pass. After Yuki Otsu pulled one back for Kashiwa, Kashima were reduced to ten men when Ogasawara received a second yellow card and was sent off in the 77th minute.

"He [Koroki] has wonderful ability, but I think he has yet to show his best. I believe he will improve further to become a good player," said Kashima's Brazilian coach Oswaldo Oliveira. "I had expected today's game to be tough. After we were reduced to ten men, they started to attack from the side, but we defended their attacks very well."

After their fourth straight win, Kashima have eight wins, two draws and one defeat for 26 points, two points above Urawa Red Diamonds and six points above Gamba Osaka. They are followed by Albirex Niigata and Nagoya Grampus on 19 points. In other J-League matches, Urawa and Osaka fought to a goalless draw.

"Although it was a scoreless draw, I think it was an exciting game and I'm satisfied with my team's performance," said Urawa's German coach Volker Finke.

"We created more chances than Osaka did and we were closer to winning the game. But I was very, very disappointed that Naoki Yamada received a fourth yellow card and he cannot play our next game," he added.

Nagoya drew with Omiya Ardija 1-1, while Niigata play Vissel kobe on Sunday. Elsewhere, Hokuto Nakamura scored his first goal of the season to give FC Tokyo a 1-0 win over Yokohama Marinos, while the Brazilian-Korean forward pair of Juninho and Chong Tese led Kawasaki Frontale to a 2-0 win over Jubilo Iwata. Sanfrecce Hiroshima beat Montedio Yamagata 3-1, and Shimizu S-Pulse defeated bottom placed Oita Trinita 3-1.