Richardes grabs point for Albirex
Albirex Niigata lost further ground to leaders Kashima Antlers after they were held to a 1-1 draw at Shimizu S-Pulse.
Shinji Okazaki gave the hosts a 34th-minute lead before Marcio Richardes salvaged a late point for Albirex as both sides ended the game with ten men. Shimizu took control in the first-half and went in front 11 minutes before the interval when Okazaki headed home Daisuke Ichikawa's cross at the near post for his 11th goal of the season.
It went from bad to worse for Albirex on the stroke of half-time when Brazilian defender Gilton picked up a second caution and was sent-off. However, Marcio levelled in the 77th minute when the Brazilian curled in a free-kick before Shimizu were reduced to ten men shortly afterwards as midfielder Takuma Edamura received his second yellow card of the game.
It was Albirex's fifth consecutive draw to leave them 11 points behind Kashima in third.
"We had a hard time in the first-half as our opponents worked so hard," said Albirex coach Jun Suzuki.
"We looked threatening on set pieces and the players battled until the end, but we need to improve the quality of our play to win."
Elsewhere, FC Tokyo were held to a goalless draw by Yokohama F. Marinos while Omiya Ardija and Jubilo Iwata ended 1-1.