Brazilian striker Marquinhos Saturday scored the deciding goal as defending champions Kashima Antlers came back from two goals down to beat Jubilo Iwata 3-2 and extend their J-League lead.
With only four minutes left on the clock, Marquinhos nodded home from close range off defender Masahiko Inoha's pass. Earlier, Daisuke Nasu and Sho Naruoka gave Iwata a 2-0 lead in the first half, but Brazilian defender Gilton pulled one back in the 52nd minute and then assisted Koji Nakata's heading goal in the 68th minute.
"We kept the initiative throughout, but we were unstable in our defence," said Kashima's Brazilian coach Oswaldo Oliveira, referring to key defender and Korean international Lee Jung-Soo, who left the team for Qatari side Al Sadd. "We made mistakes to concede goals in the first half, but we regained stability in the second half. The positioning of our players was also good and we were able to take those chances to score," he added.
Kashima stretched their J-League lead to three points, with nine wins, three draws and two defeats giving them 30 points, ahead of Shimizu S-Pulse on 27, Nagoya Grampus on 26, Cerezo Osaka on 23 and Sanfrecce Hiroshima on 22.
In other games, Nagoya and Shimizu fought it out to a 3-3 draw and Cerezo Osaka whipped Montedio Yamagata 3-0. Hiroshima edged past Urawa Red Diamonds 1-0 thanks to Tomoaki Makino's sole goal in the 72nd minute.
Brazilian midfielder Marcio Richardes scored a hat-trick to give Albirex Niigata a 3-2 win over Vegalta Sendai. Takashi Amano scored the only goal four minutes into injury time to give Yokohama Marinos a 1-0 win over Gamba Osaka.