Jubilo Iwata cruised to a 3-1 win at 10-man Cerezo Osaka to move a point clear at the top of the J. League on Saturday while modest JEF United won 2-0 at faltering Kashima Antlers to stay in the hunt for their first league title.
Veteran Japan striker Masashi Nakayama finished a flowing move to put Jubilo in front on nine minutes before Yoshito Okubo scrambled home an equalizer after Jubilo goalkeeper Arno Van Zwam could only parry a header from Brazilian striker Baron.
Cerezo was reduced to 10 men on the half hour after Kiyokazu Kudo brought down Nakayama in the penalty area and Rodrigo Gral made no mistake from the spot.
Nakayama headed the ball into an empty net for his second of the match on the hour mark.
The victory moved Jubilo top on 20 points from nine matches, one ahead of Ichihara with Yokohama F. Marinos dropping to third after going down 3-1 at Kashiwa Reysol, who climbed into fourth.
In Ibaraki Prefecture, Kashima gave the visitors the lead when Japan striker Atsushi Yanagisawa diverted Choi Yong Soo’s free kick into his own net on 44 minutes.
South Korea striker Choi struck seconds later for his ninth goal of the season as the Chiba outfit kept its unbeaten away record intact, while Kashima dropped to fifth.
At the other end of the table, Cameroon striker Patrick Mboma scored twice in the space of five first-half minutes as Tokyo Verdy crushed Kyoto Purple Sanga 5-2 away for their first win in seven matches. Kyoto replaced Verdy at the bottom of the 16-team standings.
Elsewhere, Japan defender Keisuke Tsuboi scored his first J. League goal to salvage a point for the Urawa Reds in the dying seconds of their 4-4 draw at home to Gamba Osaka while FC Tokyo defeated Oita Trinita 2-1.
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