Kashima closing in on J-League title

Kashima Antlers beat Jubilo Iwata 1-0 to move to within a step of retaining the J-League title on Saturday thanks to a last-gasp winner. It was already past the four minutes of injury time when midfielder Chikashi Masuda lofted over a free-kick for defender Daisuke Iwamasa to jump highest and head home the only goal of the game.

That winner left Kashima on 60 points, three points in front of Kawasaki Frontale with each team having one more game to play. The only other team that can catch them is Nagoya Grampus, who are five points behind Kashima but have a game in hand.

"I cannot believe it," said Iwamasa, who scored his second goal of the season. "It was really a tough game because Iwata played hard, but we knew it was important to gain three points from a win, so I'm really happy about it. I haven't scored many goals this season so I wanted to score a valuable goal when we needed it."

Kashima's Brazilian coach Oswaldo Oliveira had expected a tough game with Iwata fighting to fend off relegation. "My players knew how important this game was," he said. "They concentrated really well, they thought nothing but to win at home today. They fought with a strong will to win and played aggressively. We never gave up until the end... that resulted in this win."

Kawasaki thrashed Vissel Kobe, 4-0, while Nagoya were to play already relegated Consadole Sapporo on Sunday. In other games, Asian club champions Gamba Osaka defeated Urawa Red Diamonds, 1-0, with their creative midfielder Yasuhito Endo scoring off a heder in the 84th minute. JEF United Chiba failed to climb out of the relegation places as they lost to Shimizu S-Pulse, 3-2. Yokohama Marinos saw off Tokyo Verdy, 2-0, while Oita Trinita defeated Kashiwa Reysol by the same scoreline.