Kashima's unbeaten run ends
© AFP

Defending champions Kashima Antlers saw their 18-match unbeaten run come to an end when they crashed to Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-0 in the J.League on Saturday.

The game's only goal came from former Japan international striker Hisato Sato, whose 16 yard drive found the back of the Kashima net after he was put through by Toshihiro Aoyama in the 35th minute.

"We lost to Kashima in the first game of their winning streak, so all we wanted to do today was bring it to an end," said Sato after scoring his tenth goal of the season. "We believed we'd be able to stop it, and I'm really happy that we succeeded," he added.

We believed we'd be able to stop it, and I'm really happy that we succeeded.
Matchwinner Hisato Sato on ending the run.

The result leaves Kashima on 44 points, their lead reduced to eight points over Kawasaki Frontale. Albirex Niigata lie third on 35 points, followed by Urawa Red Diamonds on 34 points, FC Tokyo on 32 points and Hiroshima on 30 points.

Kawasaki won their match against FC Tokyo in injury time thanks to a late Hiroyuki Taniguchi strike to hand them a 2-1 victory, while Niigata and Omiya Ardija fought out a goalless draw. Fourth-placed Urawa play Shimizu S-Pulse on Sunday.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Australian international striker Josh Kennedy scored his third goal in as many games only for his side, Nagoya Grampus, to concede two goals in injury time in their 2-1 defeat to Oita Trinita. Jubilo Iwata defeated JEF United Chiba 3-2, while Yokohama Marinos convincingly beat Kyoto Purple Sanga 3-0.