• Kyodo

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Kashima Antlers’ title hopes were dealt a fresh blow Sunday after a 2-1 defeat away to Kawasaki Frontale in the J. League first division.

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Kashima Antlers forward Takayuki Suzuki (left) scores a goal in the 75th minute during a J. League first-division match against Kawasaki Frontale on Sunday at Todoroki Stadium in Kawasaki. Frontale won 2-1.

Kashima at one stage this season held a 10-point cushion at the top of the table but has taken only four points from its last five matches and its latest setback leaves it four adrift of Gamba Osaka, which beat Sanfrecce Hiroshima 4-2 on Saturday.

Kawasaki took the lead through Kazuki Ganaha in the 23rd minute, the Okinawa-born striker heading home Augusto’s left-wing cross, and Brazilian Marcus added the decisive second with a free kick from distance in the 31st.

Out-of-sorts Japan striker Takayuki Suzuki pulled one back in the 76th minute with only his third goal of the season but it was too little too late for the visitors.

Takenori Hayashi’s 82nd-minute strike moved JEF United Chiba into sixth after a 1-0 win over visiting Tokyo Verdy in the day’s other fixture.

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