Kennedy keeps Nagoya on top
© AFP

Australian international striker Joshua Kennedy struck late to earn Nagoya Grampus a 1-1 draw against Gamba Osaka and keep the defending champions on top of the J-League.

Keiji Tamada provided the pass for the Australian with only five minutes left on the clock for Kennedy's 11th goal of the season, taking him to the top of the goalscorers' standings, above Tamada and Tadanari Lee. The draw leaves Nagoya on 43 points, two ahead of Gamba Osaka and Kashiwa Reysol, with Osaka moving up to second thanks to a better goal difference.

They are followed by Yokohama Marinos on 40 points, Sanfrecce Hiroshima on 32 and seven-time champions Kashima Antlers on 31. Brazilian striker Rafinha put Osaka one up from 20 metres out at the end of first half after collecting a long ball from South Korean forward Lee Keun-Ho and exchanging passes with Takumi Shimohira.

It was Rafinha's fourth goal in only five games for Gamba Osaka since his debut at the end of last month, with the poacher netting in each of first three games. However, the defending champions fought back through Montenegrin midfielder Igor Burzanovic, who pounced on a rebound off a clearance to hit score in the 56th minute.

Gamba Osaka went ahead again through South Korean Kim Seung-Yong who converted a rebound after Nagoya goalkeeper Yoshinari Takagi had parried Lee's shot in the 74th minute. But Nagoya weren't finished and Kennedy's goal capped an eventful draw.

In the other game which had been postponed due to AFC Champions League matches, Kashima came back from a goal down to beat Cerezo Osaka 2-1 thanks to goals by Yuya Osako and Chikashi Masuda in the 55th and 74th minutes.