Brazilian striker Washington helped himself to a second-half double as Tokyo Verdy stunned leaders Kashima Antlers 2-0 to maintain its unbeaten start under new coach Vadao in the J. League first division on Saturday.

News photoYokohama F. Maminos forward Daisuke Sakata (far left) scores a goal in the 26th minute during Saturday’s J. League first-division match against Gamba Osaka at Expo Stadium. Gamba won 3-2.

Kashima had defender Daiki Iwamasa sent off in the first half on his return from suspension and the four-time champion’s misery was compounded when its lead at the top was cut to one point as second place Gamba Osaka edged defending champions Yokohama F. Marinos 3-2.

Mitsuteru Watanabe was the hero for Gamba, the 31-year-old midfielder glancing home the winner with his second of the game from Fernandinho’s free-kick in second-half stoppage time.

“Obviously we’re delighted to have come from behind to beat Yokohama,” said Gamba manager Akira Nishino, who quickly sought to play down the significance of the result on the title race.

“I am especially pleased with the manner in which we won but there is still a long way to go yet.”

At Ajinomoto Stadium, Kashima should have taken the lead when Takeshi Aoki sent a free header wide at the far post in the 21st minute while a long range free-kick from Fernando almost caught out Verdy ‘keeper Yoshinari Takagi.

But the visitor was reduced to 10 men in the 38th minute when Iwamasa was handed his second yellow for a foul on Kazuki Hiramoto and shown the red for the second time in three matches.

Washington made Verdy’s numerical advantage pay seven minutes after the interval when he headed home his first of the night from Hiramoto’s left-wing cross.

The former Atletico Paranaense striker completed his brace in the 58th minute by stabbing past the helpless Hitoshi Sogahata to take his tally for the season to 15.

In other matches, Urawa Reds reclaimed third spot after first-half goals from Marcus Tulio Tanaka and new signing Tomislav Maric gave them a 2-0 win at Nagoya Grampus Eight.

Sanfreece Hiroshima dropped into fourth after being held 1-1 away to Kawasaki Frontale, Marcus’ 69th-minute strike wiping out Hisato Sato’s opener for the visitor.

At the other end of the table Vissel Kobe edged fellow struggler Oita Trinita 2-1, while in other games, FC Tokyo earned a 1-1 draw away to Jubilo Iwata thanks to Ryoichi Kurisawa’s 82nd-minute equalizer and Albirex Niigata drew 1-1 with visiting JEF United Chiba.

In Sunday’s matches Omiya Ardija visit Shimizu S-Pulse with Kashiwa Reysol hosting Cerezo Osaka.

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