Defending J. League champion Jubilo Iwata moved to the top of the second-stage table Sunday as a late own goal from Japan defender Atsuhiro Miura gave it a come-from-behind 2-1 win away to Tokyo Verdy.
Verdy, which is also in the hunt for the title, took the lead through Kazuki Hiramoto after 18 minutes but Brazilian striker Rodrigo Gral headed Jubilo level with his 19th goal of the season from an Aleksandar Zivkovic corner on 81 minutes.
The match looked to be heading for a draw until three minutes from time when Miura diverted an effort from Iwata substitute Yasumasa Nishino into his own net to give Iwata all three points.
With two matches of the stage remaining, Jubilo, which last year became the first team to win both stages of a single season, moved on to 23 points, one clear of Urawa Reds and JEF United Ichihara.
Verdy is a further two points adrift and is tied for fifth with first-stage winner Yokohama F. Marinos, FC Tokyo and Gamba Osaka.
At the other end of the table, Hisato Sato scored twice to put relegation-haunted Vegalta Sendai on the way to a precious 3-1 victory over fellow struggler Kyoto Purple Sanga.
Vegalta and Kyoto occupy the two relegations spots in the overall standings on 23 points, one point behind Oita Trinita and four behind Vissel Kobe.
Kashima Antlers midfielder Mitsuo Ogasawara will not take part in the upcoming Kirin Challenge Cup against Cameroon after injuring his hip, the Japan Football Association said Sunday.
Defender Teruyuki Moniwa of FC Tokyo will be replacing Ogasawara on the national team for the Nov. 19 international friendly match at Oita Stadium Big Eye.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.