Vissel Kobe closed the gap on FC Tokyo in their J-League relegation scrap today, a week after Nagoya Grampus secured their first title.
A late goal from forward Hiroto Mogi gave Kobe a 1-0 win over Shimuzu S-Pulse, while Tokyo were held 1-1 by Montedio Yamagata, as Sota Hirayama's opener was cancelled out by Yuzo Tashiro four minutes from time. The win means Kobe, who are third from bottom, are now just a point behind Tokyo with one match left as they battle to avoid being relegated with Kyoto Sanga and Shonan Bellmare.
Kobe coach Masahiro Wada said he was hopeful his side could hang on to first division status but admitted they faced a fight in their last match against Urawa Red Diamonds.
"We have been under pressure that we must keep winning, and my players have become tough against such a situation. We haven't lost in the last six games, we are determined to win the last game, believing a miracle to occur," he said.
Nagoya beat Jubilo Iwata 2-1, with Japan international striker Keiji Tamada hitting the winner, while Gamba Osaka and Kashima Antlers were close to securing AFC Champions League spots. Osaka lost to Yokohama Marinos 2-0 to stand on 59 points, while Kashima, on 56, play Kyoto on Sunday. Cerezo Osaka trail them on 55 points and face bottom placed Shonan on Sunday.
In other games, Urawa Red Diamonds drew with Kawasaki Frontale 1-1, Omiya Ardija drew with Albirex Niigata 2-2, and Sahfrecce Hiroshima defeated Vegalta Sendai 1-0.