Nagoya – Brazilian winger Mateus grabbed a late winner as fifth-placed Nagoya Grampus won 1-0 at home against third-placed Cerezo Osaka in the J. League's top flight on Saturday.
The 26-year-old scored in the 91st minute after Grampus won possession deep in the opposition half. Substitute Gabriel Xavier provided a low pass from the left into the box for his fellow Brazilian, who took a touch to create space and found the bottom right corner with his favored left foot.
"I'm really happy. We were expecting a very tough game as they always are against teams near the top of the table," Mateus said. "I saw Xavier run into space and find me so I gave him a shout and managed to score at the death."
Cerezo, on 42 points, lost for the fourth time in five matches. They missed the chance to move past second-placed FC Tokyo, who lost 1-0 at home to fourth-place Gamba Osaka on a 41st-minute Ademilson penalty.
At Nagoya's Paloma Mizuho Stadium, the visitors dominated the early stages and carved out an opening in the 12th minute when Eiichi Katayama threaded a through ball behind the home defense, only for former Japan and Basel forward Yoichiro Kakitani's effort to be thwarted inside the box by the outrushing keeper Mitch Langerak.
Grampus had more of the possession after the interval, however, especially after the 58th-minute introduction of Hiroyuki Abe and Gabriel Xavier.
A period of sustained pressure finally paid off as Mateus broke the deadlock, but Cerezo gave the home side a scare with seconds remaining as Toshiyuki Takagi sent a dipping free kick just over the bar from 30 meters out.
"To have supporters back at the stadium gives us power. The goal at the end is thanks to that," Mateus said after 7,861 made their way to the rain-swept ground.
Elsewhere in the J1, Sanfrecce Hiroshima edged Shimizu S-Pulse 3-2 away, while Consadole Sapporo came from behind on a Takuro Kaneko double to beat last-place Shonan Bellmare 2-1 at Sapporo's Atsubetsu Stadium.
Andres Iniesta scored for the third straight game but Vissel Kobe saw their four-game winning end with a 4-3 defeat at Kashiwa Reysol. Ataru Esaka and Kenya striker Michael Olunga each had a brace for the hosts, with Olunga raising his league-leading total to 21.
Kei Koizumi scored the injury-time winner after Kashima Antlers equalized on an 88th-minute own goal to snatch the points in their 3-2 home win over Yokohama FC.
Yokohama F. Marinos remained sixth, two points behind Grampus, with a 4-0 home thumping of Oita Trinita, while runaway leaders Kawasaki Frontale rode Mu Kobayashi's first-half goal to a 1-0 home win against Vegalta Sendai.
Koya Yuruki scored his maiden top-flight goal in the 93rd minute, earning Urawa Reds a 1-0 win at Sagan Tosu.