J-League leaders Nagoya Grampus failed to stretch their lead against defending champions Kashima Antlers when they crashed to a 4-1 defeat to Albirex Niigata today.
Brazilian midfielder Marcio Richardes scored for Niigata in the 31st minute, only to see Australian international striker Joshua Kennedy net an equaliser for Nagoya just three minutes later.
But Yuta Mikado and Hideo Oshima took the decisive goals for Niigata at the end of the first half.
Nagoya lost Naoshi Nakamura, who received his second yellow card of the day and went out in the 53rd minute, allowing Niigata to take the initiative for the remainder of the game. Richardes added an insurance goal in the 75th minute.
Nagoya stood with 54 points in the standings, eight points above Kashima and Gamba Osaka, and 10 points above Cerezo Osaka and Kawasaki Frontale.
Yesterday, Kashima conceded a goal five minutes into injury time to be drawn by bottom placers Shonan Bellmare 1-1, while Gamba Osaka overwhelmed Omiya Ardija 5-1.
In the only other game on Sunday, forward Yuji Ono scored the lone goal in the 64th minute to give Yokohama Marinos a 1-0 win over Vissel Kobe, who had been reduced to 10 men five minutes earlier.
Kobe suffered another setback when Japan international striker Yoshito Okubo was also sent off for rough play in the 84th minute.