SAITAMA – Yuichiro Nagai struck a second-half winner Sunday as J. League leaders Urawa Reds came from behind to defeat Gamba Osaka 2-1 at home in a top-of-the-table clash and opened up a four-point lead in the second stage.
Nobuhisa Yamada rifled home a 17th-minute shot to cancel out an eighth-minute opener from Fernandinho and Nagai volleyed home a Keita Suzuki cross from the left in the 53rd minute to give Urawa a pivotal victory in their pursuit of a first league title.
JEF United Ichihara and Yokohama F. Marinos failed to keep up with the pace with away draws.
Ichihara played to a scoreless draw at bottom club Kashiwa Reysol in a game that saw seven yellow cards, including two for Kashiwa defender Takeshi Watanabe who was sent off in the dying minutes.
Yokohama shared the spoils with Cerezo Osaka on an 46th-minute header by South Korean international Ahn Jung Hwan. New signing Miodrag Andjelkovic opened the scoring for Cerezo after three minutes.
Ichihara is second with 14 points, one point ahead of Gamba and two in front of Yokohama.
At the other end of the table, struggling Jubilo Iwata posted its first win in the second stage after a 2-1 victory at Vissel Kobe on goals in each half from Toshiya Fujita and Naoya Kikuchi.
In Shizuoka, Brazilian striker Edmilson found the net twice as Albirex Niigata crushed Shimizu S-Pulse 4-2 away for its first consecutive win since being promoted to the top flight this year.
At Ajinomoto Stadium, midfielder Fernando scored the only goal of the game in the 31st minute to give Kashima Antlers a 1-0 away victory over FC Tokyo.
Sanfrecce Hiroshima beat Tokyo Verdy 3-0, with Susumu Oki, Ri Han Jae and Toshiya Tanaka on target for the home side.
A thunderstorm stopped the scoreless game between Oita Trinita and Nagoya Grampus Eight three minutes into the second half. The game was canceled and will be rescheduled.
Meanwhile, Kawasaki Frontale assured itself of promotion to the J. League first division Sunday after securing a place in the top two of the second division with a 2-1 victory away to Mito Hollyhock.
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