Brazilian striker Edmilson's early goal put Asian club champions Urawa Red Diamonds on the way as they beat FC Tokyo 2-0 for the sole lead in the J-League on Saturday.
Edmilson, who thought he had doubled his tally in the 25th minute but was ruled offside, received a pass from fellow forward Tatsuya Tanaka to fire home with just three minutes on the clock.
Tokyo had a chance to make it even in first-half injury time but midfielder Yasuyuki Konno hit a post. Tokyo took the initiative into the second half, but it was Urawa who scored the decisive second goal of the game when substitute forward Yuichiro Nagai scored in the 88th minute after a swift counterattack.
"We scored an early goal and then Tokyo took the pace afterwards. It was good that we kept them scoreless," said Nagai, whose goal was his 50th in league competition during his 12-year career. "It's not so good because I've been playing for many years," Nagai said. "My playing time is always short, so I was able to vent my pent-up frustration."
Urawa are now on 29 points from 15 games, one point ahead of defending champions Kashima Antlers, winners over Jubilo Iwata 2-1. Nagoya Grampus are third on 26 points, followed by Gamba Osaka on 25 points and FC Tokyo on 24 points. Nagoya lost pace after they crashed to a 2-1 defeat to Albirex Niigata, while Osaka play Kashiwa Reysol on Sunday.
In other games, Brazilian Leandro scored the only goal in the ninth minute to give Vissel Kobe a 1-0 win over Omiya Ardija, while Tokyo Verdy eased past bottom-of-the-table JEF United Chiba 3-0.
Consadole Sapporo twice came back from a goal down to hold Shimizu S-Pulse 2-2.