NAGOYA – Kashima Antlers saw their lead at the top of the J. League first division cut to four points on Wednesday after a 3-0 defeat away to Nagoya Grampus Eight.
Naoshi Nakamura fired Nagoya into a 22nd-minute lead from the penalty spot before Kashima was reduced to 10 men when Masashi Motoyama was sent off 10 minutes later after picking up his second yellow card.
Substitute Yohei Toyoda scored twice with a pair of simple finishes in the last 13 minutes to seal Nagoya’s first win in eight matches and the result allowed Gamba Osaka to close the gap at the top after a 2-0 win away to Oita Trinita.
Nearing the midway point of the season, Kashima leads the table on 35 points from 16 games with Gamba staying in the hunt for its first league title in second on 31.
Defender Satoshi Yamaguchi, who scored the winner in Sunday’s 3-2 win over Kashiwa Reysol, headed Gamba in front after quarter of an hour and Japan midfielder Yasuhito Endo completed victory with a penalty eight minutes before the interval.
Defending champions Yokohama F. Marinos climbed into third on 26 points after beating JEF United Chiba 2-1 at home thanks to a Daisuke Sakata strike in second-half injury time.
At the other end of the table, Brazilian striker Lucas struck in the 63rd-minute as FC Tokyo beat Shimizu S-Pulse away to record its first win in three months.
“We have practiced well and played well but the results haven’t gone our way. Everyone worked really hard tonight and we’re delighted to get the victory,” said Lucas.
Second from bottom Kashiwa also ended a lengthy winless run after cruising past Urawa Reds 3-0 at Tokyo’s National Stadium, Cleber scoring twice, while rock bottom Vissel Kobe came from two goals down to hold fellow strugglers Tokyo Verdy 3-3 away.
Elsewhere, Tuto scored the decisive goal as Omiya Ardija edged Kawasaki Frontale 1-0 while Cerezo Osaka beat visiting Albirex Niigata by the same scoreline, Ze Carlos scoring the winner. Sanfrecce Hiroshima against Jubilo Iwata finished 0-0.
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (Kyodo) Celtic manager Gordon Strachan on Wednesday appeared confident the Scottish giants would sign Japan midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura from Serie A club Reggina.
Nakamura, 27, is also being targeted by Deportivo La Coruna and Atletico Madrid but Strachan was quoted by England’s Press Association as saying he thought he would be able to get his man “within a week” if negotiations go according to plan.
Strachan was at the Confederations Cup in Germany last month, where Nakamura impressed as he helped Japan beat European champions Greece 1-0 and hold Brazil to a 2-2 draw.
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