Forward Shingo Akamine came to the rescue of the J.League leaders Vegalta Sendai when he fired home a late equaliser to earn a crucial draw with Gamba Osaka 1-1 today.
Korean midfielder Ryang Yong-Gi sent in a pin-point cross from the left for Akamine to head the ball into the right corner in the 78th minute, giving the goalkeeper no chance. Just over 15 minutes earlier, Gamba Osaka had delighted their home supporters when Shu Kurata struck home a pass from Akihiro Sato to open the scoring.
The share of the spoils mean Sendai, on 24 points, keep a two-point lead over Shimizu S-Pulse, whose Australian striker Alex Jason Brosque hit home an equaliser in injury time as they drew with Cerezo Osaka 1-1.
They are followed by Sanfrecce Hiroshima on 19 points, and Jubilo Iwata, Urawa Red Diamonds and FC Tokyo on 18 points each. Hiroshima crashed to a 3-1 defeat, giving Yokohama Marinos their fourth straight win, while Urawa drew with Albirex Niigata 1-1 as Brazilians Marcio Richardes and Bruno Lopes shared the goals.
In other games, Japan international striker Keiji Tamada scored the only goal to give Nagoya Grampus a 1-0 win over Vissel Kobe, while defending champions Kashiwa Reysol downed Kawasaki Frontale 2-0. FC Tokyo edged past Consadole Sapporo 1-0, Jubilo Iwata defeated powerhouse Kashima Antlers 3-0, and Sagan Tosu drew with Omiya Ardija 1-1.