Seven-time champions Kashima Antlers posted their long-awaited first win of the season when they defeated Avispa Fukuoka 2-1 in the J.League today.
Kashima dominated the encounter, with forward duo Shinzo Koroki and Yuya Osako repeatedly creating scoring chances.
But Fukuoka took a rare chance to lead 1-0 when captain Kosuke Nakamachi headed in a cross from Yusuke Tanaka in the 40th minute.
Kashima were on top again in the second half. Koroki's shot was stopped by Fukuoka goalkeeper Ryuichi Kamiyama and Osako quickly snatched the rebound to make it 1-1 in the 59th minute.
Japan defender Daiki Iwamasa, who scored an own goal a week ago, nodded home the winner from a corner in the 71st minute.
"It was really a tough game. Fukuoka were desperate to win after losing the previous two games. We needed some time to cope with their two forwards," said Kashima's Brazilian coach Oswaldo Oliveira.
"I'm very glad to win, because I had expected a tough game today. I think my players rushed a little bit. We must regain our normal style that we break through by connecting passes," he added.
Vegalta Sendai, whose stadium was damaged by the earthquake which struck the country last month, made a winning return at home by beating powerhouse Urawa Red Diamonds 1-0, with Yoshiaki Ota heading the only goal.
Kashiwa Reysol kept their lead in the standings with a 2-1 win over Ventforet Kofu, recording their third straight win.
In the day's other games, defending champions Nagoya Grampus also earned their first win of the season, beating Kawasaki Frontale 1-0 thanks to Japan striker Keiji Tamada's brace.
Gamba Osaka were 3-2 winners over Montedio Yamagata, while Omiya Ardija downed Vissel Kobe 1-0. The games between Shimizu S-Pulse and Yokohama Marinos, Cerezo Osaka and Albirex Niigata, and Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Jubilo Iwata all finished level.