KASHIMA, Chiba Pref. – Kashima Antlers reclaimed pole position in the J. League first division with a 1-0 win at home to Vissel Kobe on Wednesday.
Defender Daiki Iwamasa headed Kashima’s 1,000th league goal after just two minutes and it proved to be enough to lift Kashima back above Urawa Reds on goal difference after the Reds were held 2-2 away to Shimizu S-Pulse.
“I’d forgotten that it was the 1,000th goal when I put it in but it hit me in the second half and I realized I’d got it. It’s great,” said Iwamasa.
“In order to win the championship again we have to keep on picking up three points and we need to get ourselves prepared for our next game (against JEF United Chiba).”
At Ecopa Stadium, Kazuki Hara gave Shimizu an 18th-minute lead from the penalty spot but Robson Ponte pounced on a loose ball to level nine minutes before halftime.
Urawa went in front through teenage midfielder Naoki Yamada with 15 minutes remaining but Urawa’s five-match league and cup winning streak game came to an end when Arata Kodama snatched a share of the spoils three minutes from time.
In other games, promoted Montedio Yamagata continued their impressive start to life in the top flight as Yu Hasegawa took his goal tally for the season to five with a double in a 3-0 win at Omiya Ardija.
Vitor Junior’s 18th-minute strike put Kawasaki Frontale on the way to a handsome 4-1 win over visiting Kyoto Sanga but Asian allies Nagoya Grampus were held 0-0 at home to Sanfrecce Hiroshima. Gamba Osaka overpowered FC Tokyo 4-2.
At the bottom of the table, Kazuma Watanabe struck his fifth of the season to give Yokohama F Marinos a 1-0 win over Jubilo Iwata while Daisuke Saito’s late equalizer earned Chiba a useful point in a 2-2 draw away to Albirex Niigata.
Two goals in the last eight minutes from veteran striker Hideaki Kitajima and Yuki Otsu saw Kashiwa Reysol beat bottom club Oita Trinita 2-1 and clinch their first win of the season.