Kashima defence denies Iwata
© AFP

Kashima Antlers maintained their seven-point lead at the top of the J.League with a 1-0 win over Jubilo Iwata at home. Forward Shinzo Koroki struck the winner in the 39th minute to keep Kashima way out in front of the chasing pack, having played a game less. Any and all threats offered by the Iwata front line following Koroki's strike were snuffed out by resolute Kashima defending.

"We couldn't create many chances, but we still were able to score from one of them. That's something I can give credit to our team for," said Kashima manager Oswaldo Oliveira.

Niigata pursue
Elsewhere, Albirex Niigata made sure they did not lose further ground on the J.League leaders by beating an injury-hampered Gamba Osaka 2-0. Niigata went ahead in the 32nd minute when Kisho Yano fired home a volley before Marcio Richardes curled home a Pedro Junior pass to secure the win in the 83rd minute.

"It was quite a difficult game," said Gamba coach Akira Nishino. "The players today tried hard to show their playing form, but we cannot say it worked well."

Nagoya Grampus also suffered a 1-0 defeat at JEF United Chiba, their fourth match without a win. Chiba forward Masaki Fukai scored the game's only goal in the 82nd minute, helping the visitors to their third win of the season.

Streaks continue
Brazilian forward Renatinho scored two goals to help Kawasaki Frontale beat Oita Trinita 2-0 at home for their fourth consecutive win, while Omiya Ardija edged visiting Kyoto Sanga 2-1, thanks to defender Taishi Tsukamoto's 72nd-minute goal.

Shimizu S-Pulse downed Montedio Yamagata 4-1 at home for their third straight win to move up to fifth from eighth in the table, while FC Tokyo beat hosts Kashiwa Reysol 3-0 with goals from Naohiro Ishikawa, Brazilian forward Cabore and Sota Hirayama.