SAITAMA – Urawa Reds regained the lead in the J. League first division with a 3-1 victory over Jubilo Iwata, while Kashima Antlers were knocked off the top spot after going down 2-1 to Nagoya Grampus on Saturday.
Robert Cullen put Iwata ahead but Robson Ponte leveled for the home side on the stroke of halftime before Tadaaki Hirakawa and Naohiro Takahara added second-half goals as the Reds moved onto 40 points from 22 games, one clear of Nagoya.
Nagoya entered the weekend two points off the pace in third but goals in each half from Maya Yoshida and Frode Johnsen, which followed a fourth-minute opener by Kashima striker Marquinhos, lifted it to second in a tight title race. The home defeat dropped Kashima into third on 38 points.
Oita Trinita, in fourth place, hosts Omiya Ardija on Sunday.
Also on Saturday, Japan international Masashi Oguro opened his account for Tokyo Verdy in a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over crosstown rival FC Tokyo. Daisuke Nasu also netted in the second half for Verdy.
Shimizu S-Pulse beat Kashiwa Reysol 3-2 at home thanks to a Shinji Okazaki double and former Japan forward Atsushi Yanagisawa helped Kyoto Sanga to a 1-0 win over visiting Albirex Niigata. Gamba Osaka was held to a 1-1 draw at home to Vissel Kobe, Yoshito Okubo netting the equalizer for the visitors in the dying minutes.
Sunday’s other fixtures see Yokohama F. Marinos welcome Consadole Sapporo and Kawasaki Frontale traveling to JEF United Chiba.