Kawasaki Frontale beat Oita Trinita 3-1 in the J. League first division on Saturday after captain Yu Kobayashi struck the winner midway through the second half.
Manabu Saito opened the scoring for Frontale in the 51st minute at Todoroki Stadium, but the visitors equalized 10 minutes later through Ado Onaiwu.
Hiroyuki Abe added the late third goal for the two-time defending champions, who climbed into the top three with the win.
Oita remains fifth as it chases a top-three finish in its first season since returning to the top flight.
Kengo Nakamura helped set up the first two goals for Toru Oniki’s team, which beat English Premier League side Chelsea 1-0 in a friendly in their previous match on July 19.
The veteran midfielder came close to opening the scoring late in the first half with a dipping free kick Oita ‘keeper Shun Takagi deflected onto the crossbar and out for a corner.
Saito netted from inside the area following a quick through-ball from Hokuto Shimoda, who had been played into space by Nakamura.
The visitors struck back after Yushi Hasegawa found Noriaki Fujimoto sprinting ahead with a long ball. At the edge of the goal line, Fujimoto pulled a pass back for Onaiwu, who stroked the equalizer from the middle of the box.
Nakamura set up the winner seven minutes later, pouncing on a back pass from Onaiwu before playing a diagonal ball to Kobayashi at the top of the box.
The striker still had work to do, cutting inside center-back Yoshinori Suzuki before beating Takagi for his eighth league goal of the season.
Abe put the match on ice with five minutes left, finding the top right corner of the net after substitute forward Leandro Damiao found him at the edge of the arc with a short cross from the left.