Koroki keeps Kashima top

Shinzo Koroki scored one goal and set up another as defending champions Kashima Antlers beat Tokyo Verdy 4-1 to maintain a narrow lead at the top of the J.League.

Koroki received a long ball from goalkeeper Hitoshi Sogahata, before firing home a 12-yard shot to open the scoring for Kashima in the 19th minute. After defender Daiki Iwamasa made it 2-0 with his first goal of the season shortly before half-time, Koroki set up Brazilian striker Marquinhos, who made it 3-0 shortly after the break.

Takuya Nozawa needed less than a minute after replacing Koroki to add a fourth in the 78th minute, but Verdy scored a late consolation goal through Brazilian Diego.

"We won the match playing in our own rhythm. We couldn't score on our chances in the previous match, but today we did pretty well," said Kashima's Brazilian coach Oswaldo Oliveira.

"We got the momentum after scoring a goal in an early minute and we were able to perform very well. That is a big element of our win today."

Kashima now have 38 points, one more than Asian club champions Urawa Red Diamonds and two above Nagoya Grampus Eight. Urawa beat FC Tokyo 1-0 thanks to a Takahito Soma goal, which he scored in the 67th minute from a Keita Suzuki pass.

Nagoya beat Vissel Kobe 2-1 with midfielder Yoshizumi Ogawa scoring his second goal of the game two minutes into injury time, while Yasuhito Morishima scored the only goal to give Oita Trinita a 1-0 win over Albirex Niigata.

In other games, JEF United Chiba lifted themselves off bottom spot thanks to a 1-1 draw with Kashiwa Reysol, while Gamba Osaka lost 2-0 to Omiya Ardija to drop to seventh in the table.