Yokohama F. Marinos failed to put distance between themselves and their nearest challengers after a 0-0 draw away to lowly Kyoto Purple Sanga in the J. League on Saturday.
The draw preserved the first-stage winners’ slender one point lead at the top of the table on 19 ahead of Urawa Reds, who kept their hopes of a first league title and domestic double alive after a 1-1 draw away to FC Tokyo.
Yuto Sato scored twice as JEF United Ichihara came from behind to win 2-1 away at Vegalta Sendai and join Urawa on 18 points while Kashima Antlers and defending champions Jubilo Iwata also stayed in contention with only three points separating the top six teams with five games of the stage remaining.
At Ajinomoto Stadium, Brazilian striker Emerson fired his 15th goal of the season to give Urawa the lead in the 40th minute but the Nabisco Cup finalists gifted the home side a share of the spoils when Japan Under-22 midfielder Koji Yamase drove a corner into his own net three minutes after the break.
League-leading scorer Rodrigo Gral and Aleksandar Zivkovic found the target in Iwata’s 2-0 win at home rock-bottom Oita Trinita while Kashima won by the same scoreline at home to Shimizu S-Pulse, which had Japan international Alessandro Santos red-carded in the dying stages.
Elsewhere, Nagoya Grampus Eight lost ground on the leaders after a 2-1 defeat at home to unfashionable Vissel Kobe, which held on for its first victory of the second stage despite playing virtually all of the second half with 10 men.
Brazilian Oseas scored the winner in the 41st minute before turning villain five minutes into the second half when he was sent off for his second bookable offense.
In Sunday’s matches, resurgent Tokyo Verdy visit Kashiwa Reysol while Cerezo Osaka will be looking to give Yuji Tsukada a win in his first match in charge against local rivals Gamba Osaka.
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