Jostle for supremacy in Japan, China

With Korea Republic’s domestic league having a weekend off, and the west half of the continent largely enjoying an off-season ahead of Iran’s looming 2011/12 kick-off, focuses on the action in Japan and China PR. There is also a review of weekend activity in Uzbekistan and Singapore, with the status quo remaining in the former and silverware handed out in the latter.

Japan’s J.League: Yokohama take slim advantage
Kashiwa Reysol allowed Yokohama F Marinos to take a two-point lead at the J.League summit after being held to a goalless draw at Vegalta Sendai. Yokohama needed to work overtime to claim all three points and a 2-1 home victory over Omiya Ardija. A double from Masashi Oguro ensured the Marinos overturned Omiya's half-time lead, which had come courtesy of Rafael. Big guns Nagoya Grampus and Gamba Osaka remain lurking ominously following impressive weekend wins and the pair sit four points off the pace with a match in hand.

Big game: The league’s best supported team, mid-table Urawa Red Diamonds, visited the home of fifth-placed Kawasaki Frontale and came away with a battling 1-0 victory. Only a ninth-minute Takanobu Komiyama own goal separated the teams but it left Kawasaki ten points from the top as they struggle to find their form of recent seasons.
Headline-grabber: Keiji Tamada joined Adriano and Junya Tanaka at the top of the J.League goalscoring tally with eight goals. The 31-year-old forward set reigning champions Nagoya Grampus on their way to a 3-0 victory against bottom-placed Avispa Fukuoka with a strike six minutes after the interval.

China’s Super League: Competition among elite
A 1-1 draw against Tianjin Teda allowed Shandong Luneng to take a narrow hold on third position. Lebanon’s Roda Antar ensured parity with a strike just past the hour to cancel out Luciano Olguin’s first-half penalty. The result saw Shandong edge past Liaoning Whowin on goal difference, with the latter collapsing 4-2 at home against Jiangsu Sainty. The duo, as well as second-placed Beijing Guoan, still trail leaders Guangzhou Yiyao by a hefty margin after the top two played out a 1-1 draw.

Big game: The final game of the weekend, played on Monday, saw the top two - Beijing Guoan and Guangzhou Yiyao - meet in a vital match in terms of the race for the title. Starting the game nine points behind leaders Guangzhou, the home side were hoping to reduce the deficit with victory. But as it turned out they could only salvage a point, Walter Martinez’s goal 15 minutes from time equalising Gao Lin’s opener for the visitors, who had Xiaoting sent off in the closing moments. The draw leaves Guangzhou in firm control and still unbeaten.
Headline-grabber: Huang Fengtao hit a double in the final 11 minutes for Shenzhen in a 2-0 win over Shanghai Shenhua to lift his side off the bottom, with Chengdu Blades now marooned in last place.

Bunyodkor are well placed to hang onto their crown just past the halfway mark of the competition in Uzbekistan, after moving six points clear with a comfortable 4-0 winning margin over Bukhara. Nasaf Qarsi lost their grip on second after falling 1-0 at home against Samarkand-Dinamo, allowing Pakhtakor to move two points ahead with a one-sided 5-1 victory over Andizhan.

In Singapore the league took a back seat for the weekend with Albirex Niigata crowned League Cup champions after beating Hougang United in the final at Jalan Besar Stadium. Yoshito Matsushita’s save to deny Jordan Webb in the final regulation attempt of the penalty shoot-out was enough to clinch Albirex a 5-4 victory after 120 scoreless minutes. League leaders Tampines Rovers also needed a 3-1 shoot-out victory to claim third in the cup after a scoreless encounter with Home United.