Yokohama Marinos extended their lead at the top of the J-League to four points with eight games left with a 1-0 win over Shimizu S-Pulse on Saturday. A fourth-minute goal from former Celtic playmaker Shunsuke Nakamura was enough to secure the points for Marinos, who are looking to claim their first league title since 2004.
Sanfrecce Hiroshima moved into second on goal difference ahead of Urawa Red Diamonds after a 2-0 win over Albirex Niigata, Hwang Seokho and Hisato Sato scoring in the first half for the defending champions.
Urawa conceded a 96th-minute equaliser to draw 1-1 with Ventforet Kofu at home. Yuki Abe gave Urawa the lead with a 51st-minute penalty, but Naoaki Aoyama slammed the ball home deep in injury time after substitute Kazuki Hiramoto had hit the post to claim a valuable point for fourth-from-bottom Ventforet.
"We have eight games left and dropping two points is damaging, but we will keep on fighting until the end," said Urawa manager Mihailo Petrovic.
Fourth-place Kashima Antlers moved within three points of Sanfrecce and Urawa after a 3-2 win over Jubilo Iwata, while FC Tokyo jumped to fifth with a 2-0 victory over Nagoya Grampus courtesy of goals from Ariajasuru Hasegawa and Nemanja Vucicevic.
Kosuke Taketomi scored twice as relegation-threatened Shonan Bellmare helped their cause with a 2-1 away win over rock-bottom Oita Trinita, while in the day's other games, Sagan Tosu beat Kawasaki Frontale 1-0 and Vegalta Sendai saw off Omiya Ardija 2-0.