KASHIMA, Ibaraki Pref. – Former Brazil striker Washington marked his return from injury by ramming home a late equalizer, but Urawa Reds conceded top spot in the J. League after a 2-2 draw away to Kashima Antlers on Saturday.
Defending champion Gamba Osaka replaced Urawa in pole position after winning 2-0 at Omiya Ardija while Kawasaki Frontale dropped four points off the pace after suffering a 2-1 reverse away to 10-man Albirex Niigata.
Gamba, which had Ryuji Bando to thank for both goals in Saitama, moved two clear at the top of the table on 39 points from 18 games with the Reds second and Frontale third.
At Komaba Stadium, Bando headed the visitors in front in the 13th minute and Takahiro Futagawa set up Bando to complete victory in the late stages.
First-half goals from Shingo Suzuki sentenced Frontale to only its third defeat of the season while Shimizu S-Pulse climbed above Kashima into fourth place with a 4-0 drubbing of Ventforet Kofu, goals from Takuma Edamura, Marquinhos and Akihiro Hyodo (two) giving S-Pulse its fourth win in a row.
Keisuke Honda had a Jekyll and Hyde performance by scoring two goals and getting sent off and veteran defender Yutaka Akita scored on his 385th league appearance as Nagoya Grampus Eight also extended its winning streak to four matches by beating Jubilo Iwata 3-1.
In the surprise result of the day, goals from former Japan international Hiroaki Morishima and Tatsuya Furuhashi gave bottom club Cerezo Osaka a 2-0 win over Yokohama F. Marinos while fellow struggler Kyoto Purple Sanga beat Avispa Fukuoka 5-4 at Hakata-no-Mori Stadium.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.