Gamba Osaka cut Kashiwa Reysol's lead at the top of the J.League to a single point with a 4-2 victory today, in a convincing performance inspired by Japan international Yasuhito Endo. The defeat leaves Kashiwa on 25 points sitting just above Vegalta Sendai, with Kawasaki Frontale and Sanfrecce Hiroshima two and three points behind respectively.
Gamba's impressive away victory lifts them to 19 points with two games in hand on the table toppers and well in touch with the title race. But it wasn't a straight forward victory with Gamba having to come from behind after Junya Tanaka put Kashiwa ahead in the tenth minute.
Highly-rated Endo, who is reportedly being tracked by a number of European clubs, equalised in the 13th minute from a Takashi Usami cross. Striker Shoki Hirai flicked in of a rebounded shot to make it 2-1 and Korean Lee Keun-Ho added another in the 62nd minute.
Brazilian Leandro Domingues scored for Kashiwa five minutes later to offer the home side hope of a comeback, but Takumi Shimohira made the game safe with his first goal of the season on 80 minutes.
"Our opponents were top in the standings. We couldn't allow them to enlarge the lead, so it was very important that we gained three points from the win today," Endo said. "We scored four goals today. I'm very happy about it," he added.
Quake-hit Sendai kept their title charge on track by beating Ventforet Kofu 4-0 at home and are now 12 games unbeaten. Meanwhile an 80th minute Koji Morisaki penalty stole the points for Sanfrecce Hiroshima in a hard-fought 3-2 win over Montedio Yamagata. Yu Kobayashi spared Kawasaki's blushes after they surrendered a two-goal lead, firing home an 81st minute winner to beat Shimizu S-Pulse 3-2.
In other games, Yuzo Tashiro scored the only goal to enable seven-time champions Kashima Antlers to beat Vissel Kobe 1-0, while former Asian club champions Urawa Red Diamonds eased by bottom-placed Avispa Fukuoka 3-0. Defending champions Nagoya Grampus defeated Cerezo Osaka 3-2, Yokohama Marinos blanked Albirex Niigata 1-0, and Omiya Ardija defeated Jubilo Iwata 2-1.