S-Pulse close in on Antlers

Defender Daisuke Ichikawa scored the winner as Shimizu S-Pulse claimed a 1-0 win over Vissel Kobe and moved to within one point of leaders Kashima Antlers in the J-League.

Kobe were reduced to 10 men after the 55th minute, when Korean midfielder Kim Nam-Il received a second yellow card. Ichikawa's goal came in the 82nd minute, after he collected a rebound from a corner to help secure the team's third straight win.

"We sent too many long balls to the front line in the first half, but we created only a few chances on a rebound," said Shimizu coach Kenta Hasegawa. "We didn't have a corner kick in the first half but we had several chances from set pieces in the second half. My players did a really good job for the goal," he added.

The win put Shimizu second in the J-League on 49 points, behind defending champions Kashima on 50 points and ahead of third-placed Gamba Osaka on 46. They are followed by Sanfrecce Hiroshima on 44 points, Albirex Niigata and Kawasaki Frontale on 43 points and Nagoya Grampus on 41 points.

On Saturday, Kashima suffered their third straight defeat when they crashed to Nagoya 4-1, while Osaka defeated Kawasaki 2-1, and Niigata defeated Hiroshima 2-1. In the only other game on Sunday, Kazuma Watanabe scored a decisive goal in first-half injury time to give Yokohama Marinos a 2-1 win over Urawa Red Diamonds.