Junya Tanaka and Hideaki Kitajima fired a couple of beautiful goals to give Kashiwa Reysol a 2-0 win over Yokohama Marinos on today as they maintained the J.League lead.
Tanaka sent a cross to the goal mouth, but the rebound came back to him and he hit an angled 11-metre shot into the net to open the scoring in the 26th minute with his fourth goal of the season. In the 37th minute, defender Hiroaki Sakai sent a cross into the area, where Kitajima dived for a header to make it 2-0.
"I had expected it to be a difficult game, but we took the first goal in a very good pattern. It allowed us to get into our rhythm. I'm glad that it went in," said Tanaka.
Kashiwa's Brazilian coach Nelsinho also expected a difficult game, but added: "We were able to play as we had planned. We were careful for Shunsuke Nakamura's counter-attacks."
Kashiwa have now seven wins, one draw and one defeat for 22 points, four points above Sanfrecce Hiroshima, five ahead of Vegalta Sendai and seven clear of Yokohama.
Japan international striker Hisato Sato gave Hiroshima a 1-0 win with a last-minute goal against Albirex Niigata, while Sendai remained unbeaten this season with a 1-1 draw with Vissel Kobe.
In other games, Japan international striker Keiji Tamada also scored a decider with only one minute left on the clock to give defending champions Nagoya Grampus a 1-0 win over Jubilo Iwata.
Cerezo Osaka, the only Japanese team to reach the AFC Champions League quarter-finals, whipped bottom placed Avispa Fukuoka 3-0, while seven-time champions Kashima Antlers blanked Montedio Yamagata 2-0.
Other games were all 2-2 draws between Kawasaki Frontale and Ventforet Kofu, Urawa Red Diamonds and Omiya Ardija, and Gamba Osaka and Shimizu S-Pulse.