Defending champions Kashima Antlers put their midweek Asian Champions League disappointment behind them Sunday by beating struggling Oita Trinita 2-1 to stay at the summit of Japan's J-League table.
Skipper Mitsuo Ogasawara, who was sent off during Wednesday's Champions League defeat to FC Seoul on penalties, struck a 61st minute equaliser after Hiroshi Kiyotake opened the scoring for Oita seven minutes earlier. Kashima defender Daiki Iwamasa's close-range effort on 72 minutes sealde the tie to consolidate Kashima's lead while adding to Oita Trinita's woes at the foot of the table.
Ogasawara said his team were relieved to win after the "disappointment" of their Champions League exit. "It caused trouble for my team, so I'm glad that we won today," he said. "I, and my teammates, we all want to win the Champions League, so we have a strong motivation to qualify for it and challenge again next year by winning the J-League."
Kashima head the table on 35 points, ahead of Albirex Niigata and Urawa Red Diamonds on 28 points, and Kawasaki Frontale on 27 points. Gamba Osaka, whose defence of their Champions League title ended Wednesday in defeat to Kawasaki, also returned to winning ways beating Yokohama Marinos 2-1, with strikes from Japan international midfielder Yasuhito Endo and Hideo Hashimoto, who capitalised on a poor clearance from goalkeeper Hiroki Iikura.
"We lost our previous several games even though we played well, but we were able to concentrate very well today," said Endo.
In other games, Korea DPR international striker Chong Tese scored the only goal to give Kawasaki a 1-0 win over Montedio Yamagata, while Nagoya Grampus fell to Niigata 2-1.