SAPPORO – Promoted Matsumoto Yamaga held Consadole Sapporo to a 1-1 draw thanks to some good work from keeper Tatsuya Morita on Sunday.
The hosts took the lead seven minutes in at Sapporo Dome, when Kosuke Shirai knocked in the rebound after a Jay Bothroyd header hit the left post.
Although Consadole attacked relentlessly, Morita kept his team from falling two goals down 17 minutes later, when he challenged Bothroyd one-on-one and smothered the one-time England international’s shot. A minute later, Morita came out again to block an Anderson Lopes shot.
Matsumoto defender Takefumi Toma equalized in the 31st minute, kicking the ball into the top of the net as both teams scrambled after Hiroyuki Takasaki headed down a corner kick and defender Masaki Iida’s shot was blocked.
Bothroyd barely missed scoring in the 54th minute when he tried to strike a cross on the hop but his trick shot hit the bar and bounced clear of the line.
Consadole, who started the day in seventh place on 27 points, picked up the pace with time running out, feverishly searching for the goal that would earn them three points.
At Tokyo’s Ajinomoto Stadium, Kensuke Nagai scored twice as FC Tokyo beat Gamba Osaka 3-1 on Sunday to remain in first place in the J. League’s first division.
After Gamba went ahead on an early goal, Nagai equalized in the 36th minute then put his team ahead for good just three minutes later on a header for his sixth goal of the season.
Diego Oliveira added an insurance goal midway through the second half as Tokyo improved to 39 points, six ahead of second-place Yokohama F. Marinos, which beat Oita Trinita 1-0 on Saturday.
Kawasaki Frontale remained in third place on 32 points after being held to a goalless draw by Sagan Tosu.
At Paloma Mizuho Stadium, Shonan Bellmare beat Nagoya Grampus 2-0 to snap a five-game losing streak. Nagoya’s misery continued as its winless streak in the league stretched to seven games.