KAWASAKI – Kawasaki Frontale kept alive its hopes of a first J. League first division title with a comprehensive 3-0 defeat of Oita Trinita on Saturday.
Renatinho grabbed a quick-fire double and Juninho made the points safe shortly before the hour mark to push Frontale within two points of leaders Kashima Antlers, who were held 0-0 away to Gamba Osaka.
Renatinho opened the scoring on 24 minutes before Japan midfielder Kengo Nakamura set the Brazilian striker up for his second moments later from 20 meters at Todoroki Stadium.
Juninho pounced on a loose ball to seal victory with his ninth of the season and sentenced Oita to a second straight defeat after its 14-match unbeaten league streak ended last week at Nissan Stadium with a 1-0 defeat to Yokohama F. Marinos.
Kawasaki moved into third in the table on 48 points, ahead of Oita on goal difference. Nagoya Grampus (49) hosts Tokyo Verdy and Asian club champions Urawa Reds (47) are away to in-form JEF United Chiba on Sunday.
Elsewhere, FC Tokyo’s slim title chances took a hit after it was thrashed 5-1 at home to Shimizu S-Pulse, while Yokohama drew 0-0 away to Albirex Niigata.
In Saturday’s evening games, Yusuke Murakami scored a first-half hat-trick as Kashiwa Reysol ended a 10-match winless streak with a 4-0 demolition of Omiya Ardija, while Japan striker Yoshito Okubo bagged a brace in Vissel Kobe’s 4-1 win over Kyoto Sanga.
Jubilo Iwata faces fellow struggler Consadole Sapporo in Sunday’s other fixture.
Consadole lies bottom of the standings, 12 points adrift of next-to-last Jubilo. The bottom two clubs are automatically relegated at the end of the season.