Brazilian striker Will grabbed two second-half goals as J. League leaders Yokohama F Marinos edged closer to the first-stage title with a 3-0 win over struggling Vissel Kobe on Wednesday.
Japan striker Naohiro Takahara struck his ninth goal of the season but second-placed Jubilo Iwata dropped a point further behind Marinos at the top of the first division after its 1-0 extra-time win at Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
With only two games left in the first stage, Yokohama leads with 32 points, two clear of Iwata in second. If Jubilo loses on Saturday, Marinos can secure the title by beating last year’s champions Kashima Antlers on Sunday.
The only other team with a chance of claiming the first-stage title, Gamba Osaka, retained an outside hope with a comprehensive 3-0 victory at home to Tokyo Verdy.
Marinos, playing at “home” in Kumamoto Prefecture, made light of the absence of Japan internationals Daisuke Oku and Yuji Nakazawa as defender Naza put them in front with a header seven minutes before halftime.
Will, top scorer in the first division last year, sealed the three points with strikes in the 56th and 86th minutes.
At Hiroshima Big Arch, Iwata kept its challenge on track with two points after Takahara scored for the fifth consecutive game, 10 minutes into extra time to earn the two points.
Elsewhere, Brazilian striker Ueslei netted four times as fourth-placed Nagoya Grampus Eight romped home 4-1 at Vegalta Sendai while South Korean striker Choi Yong Soo bagged a goal in each half as JEF United Ichihara downed Consadole Sapporo 2-0.
Kashiwa Reysol manager Steve Perryman had a miserable return to his former club as Shimizu S-Pulse came from a goal down to win 2-1 and send the Chiba outfit to its sixth straight defeat.
Atsushi Yanagisawa and new Brazilian strike partner Euller both got on the scoresheet as Kashima defeated Urawa Reds 2-0.
Kyoto sinks FC Tokyo
Kyoto midfielder Shingo Suzuki scored the equalizer and South Korea international Park Ji Sung struck the winner as Purple Sanga rallied past FC Tokyo 3-1 at Tokyo Stadium on Wednesday night extending its unbeaten streak to nine matches.
After Kyoto forward Teruaki Kurobe’s 23rd-minute penalty was saved by Tokyo goalkeeper Yoichi Doi, Tokyo went ahead in the 41st minute with a penalty by Amaral.
But one goal changed the flow of the game. Less than a minute after the break, Suzuki got a ball from Daisuke Saito and fired home from the edge of the box.
Park then found a through ball from Shinya Tomita and calmly slotted home the winner in the 58th minute. Seven minutes later, Kurobe knocked in a header off a Park free-kick to complete the scoring for the visitors.
Kyoto manager Gert Engels praised his players, “We missed a penalty, went behind 1-0 and we had played 120 minutes against the Marinos (for a 1-1 draw) on Sunday. But our players showed their character today.” (Kumi Kinohara)
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