Antlers suffer third straight loss
J.League leaders Kashima Antlers' recent woes continued after they were defeated 4-1 by Nagoya Grampus at Kashima Soccer Stadium to suffer their third consecutive loss. Nagoya's Australian forward Josh Kennedy scored the opener and Montenegrin international Igor Burzanovic struck twice to highlight the visitors' victory.
Nagoya stunned the hosts after six minutes when Kennedy reacted quickest after Burzanovic's initial effort was blocked. Eight minutes later, it was Burzanovic's turn when he capitalised on Hitoshi Sogahata's error in the box. The former Red Star Belgrade midfielder pounced on the ball when the Kashima goalkeeper missed his kick, rounded Sogahata and tapped the ball into the empty net.
Nine minutes into the second-half, Nagoya further extended their lead when midfielder Keita Sugimoto latched onto a long ball and headed over Sogahata. Kashima managed to pull a goal back in the 75th minute when Marquinhos met Mitsuo Ogasawara's free-kick with a low diving header.
However, they then let the visitors in with another mistake as Japan defender Atsuto Uchida attempted to head Sogahata's ball to a team-mate, but it went straight to Burzanovic. The 24-year-old midfielder then blasted the ball past the stunned Kashima goalkeeper for his second goal.
"Our players were very motivated for this game and they did well defensively, too. I'm very satisfied today," Nagoya coach Dragan Stojkovic said.
Kashima coach Oswaldo Oliveira said: "We made various preparations for today's game, but suffered by giving an early goal away. We couldn't play our usual game at all and Grampus took full advantage of our mistakes."
Endo brace for Gamba
Gamba Osaka midfielder Yasuhito Endo struck twice in his side's 2-1 win over Kawasaki Frontale in a rematch of the Asian Champions League last 16 battle. The north Osaka side took a lead when Endo slotted home Takahiro Futagawa's pass in the 17th minute.
Frontale levelled three minutes before the break when Hiroyuki Taniguchi converted Kengo Nakamura's pass from the right, but Endo bagged the winner when he curled home a free-kick in the 76th minute as Gamba climbed to third, four points behind Kashima.
"This game was very important to us and we really wanted to win it by any means. The win came due to our team work," said Endo.
"We cannot afford to lose any more games. We just work hard, believing that we can win the league and will take it a game at a time."
Hiroshima failed to narrow the gap to Kashima after suffering a 2-1 home defeat to Albirex Niigata. Kisho Yano and Brazilian defender Gilton struck in the first half-for Niigata before Toshihiro Aoyama scored for Hiroshima early in the second period.
Elsewhere, FC Tokyo edged out Jubilo Iwata 3-2 thanks to a late goal from substitute forward Shingo Akamine at home. Tokyo midfielder Naohiro Ishikawa put his side in front with his 13th strike of the season in the 63rd minute, but Jubilo forward Ryoichi Maeda equalised two minutes later.
Jubilo's South Korea forward Lee Keun-ho put the visitors ahead in the 71st minute, but full-back Yuto Nagatomo levelled with eight minutes to go.
Substitute Tomotaka Kitamura scored midway through the second half to give Montedio Yamagata a crucial 2-1 win against JEF United Chiba, as both sides battle to survive in the top-flight. Bottom club Oita Trinita were held to a goalless draw by Kashiwa Reysol, while Omiya Ardija beat hosts Kyoto Sanga 3-1 with goals from Naoki Ishihara, Chikara Fujimoto and Brazilian forward Rafael.