Kashima Antlers extend run
Two-time defending champions Kashima Antlers remained eight points clear at the top of the J. League after recording a 2-0 win over Omiya Ardija. Brazilian striker Marcos Marquinhos headed home from Shinzo Koroki's cross after 17 minutes to open the scoring before Yuya Osako sealed Kashima's 13th win in 17 games in the last minute.
Urawa Reds moved into second place after beating Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2-1 to extend their winning streak to three, as Albirex Niigata slipped down to third after being held to a 2-2 draw by ten-man Kawasaki Frontale. At Saitama Stadium Japan international Hisato Sato broke the deadlock for Sanfrecce with a low volley from inside the area after just seven minutes, following good work from midfielder Yosuke Kashiwagi.
The visitors looked to put the game out of sight as Sato hit the bar seven minutes before the break and Tomoaki Makino was only denied by Reds defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka. Sato and Koji Nakajima both had chances for Sanfrecce, but as the second half progressed the Reds started to come into the game. After Brazilian striker Edmilson, compatriot Robson Ponte and Tanaka all had chances, the home side equalised with 21 minutes remaining.
Edmilson latched on to a through ball from Naohiro Takahara before beating his marker and firing past advancing goalkeeper Yoji Nakabayashi. Edmilson hit the post with a 76th-minute penalty, but made amends with five minutes remaining as he headed home Ponte's free-kick to take his season tally to ten.
"Our opponents played better for the first 60 minutes, and we managed to come back in the last 30 minutes and win the game, showing a good team spirit," said the Reds' German manager Volker Finke.
Albirex held despite advantage
Albirex, though, slipped ten points off the pace as Juninho's individual effort earned Kawasaki a point. Marcio Richardes' 37th-minute opener had sent Albirex on their way, but Hiroyuki Taniguchi equalised for Kawasaki six minutes after half-time.
Toshihiro Matsushita regained the lead for the home side four minutes after the hour mark before Yusuke Mori was sent off for Kawasaki three minutes later. But Albirex slipped down to third, level on points with Kawasaki, as Juninho collected a throw in from Yusuke Igawa before advancing and firing home to extend his side's unbeaten run to eight.
Shimizu closes in
Fifth-placed Shimizu S-Pulse took advantage of the draw to move within seven points of the pair after easing to a 4-1 win at Gamba Osaka, who crashed to a third straight defeat. Shinji Okazaki, Keisuke Iwashita and Takuma Edamura had all scored for Shimizu before South Korea international Cho Jae-jin pulled a goal back for Gamba with 18 minutes remaining. Substitute Kazuki Hara restored the advantage and sealed the win for Shimizu with seven minutes remaining.
Elsewhere, JEF United shared a 1-1 draw with Vissel Kobe and Montedio Yamagata recorded a 2-1 win at Yokohama F. Marinos.