TOYOTA, AICHI PREF. - Yasushi Endo scored a cracking last-minute winner as Kashima Antlers came from a goal down to beat struggling Nagoya Grampus 3-2 away and move within four points of idle J. League leader Sagan Tosu on Saturday.
The result moved seven-time champion Antlers onto 33 points from 19 games, while dropping 2010 title winner Nagoya into the relegation zone in 16th place.
Tosu, who on Friday fired manager Yoon Jung-hwan, had their game away to defending champion Sanfrecce Hiroshima postponed due to a typhoon.
At Toyota Stadium, Kensuke Nagai opened the scoring for struggling Grampus in the 25th minute, getting on the end of Kisho Yano’s low right-wing cross to beat Hitoshi Sogahata with a well-taken diving header.
Shuto Yamamoto leveled shortly before halftime, arriving at the far post to head in an inviting cross from the right by Shoma Doi, only for Nagoya to restore its lead just after the break.
Leandro Domingues was awarded a soft penalty after he was adjudged to have been fouled by Mitsuo Ogasawara, and Australian striker Josh Kennedy stepped up to drive home the spot kick.
But Davi leveled eight minutes from time to ignite the comeback, charging down a clearance from Yusuke Muta and clipping a shot past advancing Grampus ‘keeper Seigo Narazaki, before Endo finished off a neat move involving Daigo Nishi and Doi in the last minute following some sloppy Grampus defending.
“I was totally absorbed in the moment, struck the ball and in it went,” said Endo. “This is the first time we have won back to back in a while. There is still a long way to go but hopefully we can keep picking up wins.”
“I am glad I could score but the team winning is the main thing. If I can help the team, then I am happy.”
Second-place Urawa Reds lost 2-1 away to third-place Kawasaki Frontale, two-time World Cup striker Yoshito Okubo scoring the winner 12 minutes from time at Todoroki. Urawa has 37 points and Kawasaki 36.
Gamba Osaka are seven points off the pace in fifth after a 2-0 win away to second-from-bottom Omiya Ardija, former Bundesliga striker Takashi Usami sealing victory early in the second half.
At Nihondaira, Kazuya Murata scored the only goal of the game as Shimizu S-Pulse edged Tokushima Vortis 1-0 to hand the bottom club its first defeat in three games.
In other games, Tatsuya Masushima’s equalizer helped Kashiwa Reysol come from 2-0 down to hold Yokohama F. Marinos 2-2 away and Hiroyuki Komoto’s injury-time goal earned Vissel Kobe a 1-0 win at home to Albirex Niigata. Cerezo Osaka and FC Tokyo played out a 0-0 draw.