Sendai hold lead, Nagoya, Urawa follow

Forward Shingo Akamine scored a game-deciding goal to give Vegalta Sendai a 3-2 win over defending champions Kashiwa Reysol to stay top of the J.League standings today. The leaders secured the win with Akamine's flick-in on 78 minutes. Sendai had gone ahead twice but a double from Kashiwa's Brazilian midfielder Leandro Domingues, who was later sent off, levelled the score 1-1 and 2-2.

"We always took the lead by breaking their balance to take our chances. We gained three points from the win, but we also showed that my players have mental strength," said Sendai coach Makoto Teguramori. 

"We scored goals soon after we were caught up. I think those goals shut out Kashiwa's attempt to come back. Kashiwa wanted to take three points from a win and lost their balance. We took an advantage of it," he added.

Sendai have 16 points and have not lost a game so far this season. Urawa Red Diamonds and Nagoya Grampus are both on 13 points, Sanfrecce Hiroshima, FC Tokyo and Shimizu S-Pulse are on 12 points each. 

Nagoya whipped Consadole Sapporo 3-1 with Mu Kanazaki opening the score only three minutes into the game, while Urawa eased past Vissel Kobe 2-0. Hiroshima went down to Sagan Tosu 1-0. FC Tokyo lost to Kashima Antlers 2-1 with Yasushi Endo scoring a decider four minutes into injury time to give his side their first win of the season, and Shimizu defeated Jubilo Iwata 3-2.

In other games, Yokohama Marinos drew with Omiya Ardija 1-1, while Gamba Osaka came back from two goals down to beat Kawasaki Frontale 3-2, and Albirex Niigata defeated Cerezo Osaka 1-0.