KASHIMA, Ibaraki Pref. – Brazilian striker Marquinhos marked his return from injury with a double but Kashima Antlers blew the chance to reclaim pole position in the J. League after a 2-2 draw at home to Vissel Kobe on Wednesday night.
Kashima, which was seeking its first league win in four matches after a red-hot start to the campaign, remained third in the table on 18 points, one behind the league-leading Urawa Reds and Nagoya Grampus.
Urawa eased past lowly Consadole Sapporo 4-2 while Grampus suffered their second defeat in a row after going down 2-1 at home to Kawasaki Frontale on Tuesday.
Marquinhos headed Kashima in front from a Takuya Nozawa cross on 66 minutes but Kashima’s joy lasted just five minutes as substitute Takayuki Yoshida leveled for the visitors.
In-form Japan striker Yoshito Okubo looked like he had secured victory for Kobe on 88 minutes but Marquinhos completed a frantic finale with his seventh goal of the season to rescue a point for champions.
There was also late drama at Expo Stadium as Chikara Fujimoto inspired Omiya Ardija to a surprise 3-2 win away to Gamba Osaka.
Sota Nakazawa put Gamba 2-1 in front after Kota Yoshihara had canceled out Lucas’ 12th-minute header but Fujimoto equalized with five minutes left before his free kick was headed home by Hiroshi Morita in injury time.
Omiya moved into sixth while Gamba’s third defeat of the season leaves the Osaka outfit in 10th place.