Kashima close in on J-League leaders
© AFP

Defending champions Kashima Antlers defeated Nagoya Grampus 4-0 on Saturday to reduce their deficit against the front runners to only one point in the J-League.

Brazilian striker Marquinhos opened the scoring in the fourth minute when he fired home a 15-metre right-foot shot and Mitsuo Ogasawara made it two up with a sizzling 30-metre drive in the 28th minute. Another Brazilian, Danilo, boosted the lead in the 79th minute and Marquinhos scored another in injury time.

Kashima have seven wins, four draws and three defeats for 25 points to trail one point behind Nagoya and Asian club champions Urawa Red Diamonds, who crashed 2-1 to Kashiwa Reysol in another match. Kashiwa and FC Tokyo follow on 23 points, one point clear of Omiya Ardija and Gamba Osaka.

Japan international defender Yuki Abe struck home an equalizer for Urawa but Keisuke Ota hit home the decider in the 84th minute to seal the victory for Kashiwa.

Elsewhere, Omiya blanked Tokyo Verdy 2-0.

Brazilian Sidiclei's own goal gave Shimizu S-Pulse a 2-1 win over Kyoto Purple Sanga.

Another Brazilian Alessandro scored a decider on a penalty in the 52nd minute to lead Albirex Niigata to a 2-1 win over Kawasaki Frontale.

Brazilian Gilsinho's effort in the 64th minute was enough to give former champions Jubilo Iwata a 1-0 win over Yokohama Marinos.

FC Tokyo were to play United Chiba and Osaka to play Consadole Sapporo on Sunday.