Australian international striker Joshua Kennedy scored the only goal to give J-League leaders Nagoya Grampus a 1-0 win over Cerezo Osaka today.
Kennedy was brought down in the area and cashed in on a penalty in the 28th minute, while Japan international goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki saved everything shot at him.
"I had expected it to be a tough game, and it was. And we gained three points from the win that we really needed to get," said Nagoya's Serbian coach Dragan Stojkovic.
Nagoya will play their nearest rivals, defending champions Kashima Antlers, next week, and Stojkovic said the game will be a "test" of whether they are capable of winning the title.
"Every game is important for us. We are going to play solid and win each of them. Tulio may happen to come back from an injury," said Stojkovic.
With six games each left in the season, Nagoya stretched their lead to 11 on 60 points, ahead of Kashima and Gamba Osaka on 49 points. They are followed by Kawasaki Frontale on 46 points, then Cerezo Osaka and Shimizu S-Pulse on 45 points each.
Kashima will play Albirex Niigata on Sunday, while Gamba Osaka lost a one-goal lead twice before crashing to a 4-2 defeat to Vissel Kobe.
Kawasaki drew with Jubilo Iwata 1-1, while FC Tokyo scored an early goal in each half through Sota Hirayama and Masashi Oguro as they defeated Shimizu 2-1.
Vegalta Sendai beat Kyoto Sanga 1-0, and Montedio Yamagata triumphed over Urawa Red Diamonds 1-0. The game between Shonan Bellmare and Omiya Ardija was postponed due to typhoon Chaba.