Kashima shocked by Kobe

Defending champions Kashima Antlers were unable to stretch their lead at the top of the J-League as they suffered a shock 1-0 defeat to lowly Vissel Kobe.

Japan international striker Yoshito Okubo was the hero for Kobe, scoring the decisive goal inside the opening minute. "I don't think we played a bad game, we played a good game. We had several chances we just couldn't take them," said Kashima's Brazilian coach Oswaldo Oliveira. "Kobe scored soon after the start and they didn't play offensively afterwards," he added.

Kobe coach Toshiya Miura said: "We scored easily in the beginning and we played aggressively for some 30 minutes after that. We had to defend well in the second half but we never allowed them to get through."

Kashima have 47 points, eight ahead of Kawasaki Frontale, losers to Jubilo Iwata 2-1. They are followed by Albirex Niigata, Gamba Osaka and Shimizu S-Pulse, all on 36 points.

Jungo Fujimoto hit a long-range free-kick to give Shimizu a 1-0 win over Kyoto Purple Sanga, while Osaka defeated Niigata 2-1 with Brazilian forward Lucas and Takahiro Futagawa on target. Australian international forward Josh Kennedy and Japan international striker Keiji Tamada scored a goal each to give Nagoya Grampus a 2-0 win over JEF United Chiba.

In other games, Montedio Yamagata edged past FC Tokyo 1-0, Sanfrecce Hiroshima defeated regular bottom-placers Oita Trinita 1-0, while Yokohama Marinos downed Omiya Ardija 1-0. Former champions Urawa Red Diamonds, meanwhile, crashed to a shock 4-1 home defeat to Kashiwa Reysol.