Niigata add to Kashima woes
Kashima Antlers slumped to their fourth consecutive defeat as a Marcio Richardes strike secured a 1-0 for Albirex Niigata. Richardes struck in the 28th minute and Kashima battled hard after that in a bid to find an equaliser with Takuya Nozawa and Marquinhos both going close.
Brazilian midfielder Danilo had a good chance with nine minutes remaining, but in the end Kashima were unable to find a goal. Despite the defeat Kashima remain level with league leaders Shimizu S-Pulse on 50 points, but second in the standings on goal difference. The win moved Niigata up to fourth with 49 points.
"We knew Niigata would play defensively and count on making the best of a few chances," Kashima coach Oswaldo Oliveira said. "I don't believe that we played wonderful football and deserved to win, but we showed signs that we are changing.
"When you are not doing well, you've got to work as a unit and change the situation. Our players are very much aware of that and are working on it."
Gamba Osaka scored two goals in as many minutes early in the second half as the former champions rallied for a 4-1 win over Omiya Ardija. Omiya, unbeaten in their previous three meetings with Gamba, went ahead in the 26th minute when Daisuke Tomita sneaked into a bit of space behind the Gamba backline to slot home a Hayato Hashimoto free-kick.
Gamba rallied after the break and, seven minutes into the second half, Takahiro Futagawa skillfully collected a Takumi Shimohira pass from the left and delivered a fine pass to Pedro Junior, who fired home the equaliser. A minute later Gamba went ahead when Futagawa dribbled down the right flank before crossing for Hideo Hashimoto, whose initial shot hit an Omiya defender, but bounced favourably back into his path and the midfielder chipped the ball into the net.
From then on it was all Gamba and they increased their advantage in the 79th minute when Satoshi Yamaguchi headed home a Yasuhito Endo corner. Substitute Masato Yamazaki completed the scoring in the 89th minute.
"Our first goal helped us regain our momentum," said Hideo Hashimoto. "We take things a game at a time."
Gamba are third in the table while struggling Omiya are 14th. In other matches, Kawasaki Frontale bounced back from their defeat in the Asian Champions League by beating Yokohama F. Marinos 2-0 at home, while Nagoya Grampus lost 2-1 to Tokyo.