Vissel Kobe took a significant step toward the club’s maiden J. League title on Friday, defeating reigning champions Yokohama F. Marinos 2-0 to open a four-point gap at the top of the table.

Goals from former Samurai Blue stars Yuya Osako and Yoshinori Muto put manager Takayuki Yoshida’s side firmly in the driver’s seat of the J1 with five rounds left in the season, with third-place Urawa Reds falling to eight points back after their 1-1 draw with Yokohama FC.

“It was a very important match, and the players fought over 90 minutes until the very end. ... I’m glad we were able to earn the win despite the difficult match,” Yoshida said. “We analyzed our opponents’ weaknesses and aimed to exploit them, and things went according to plan.”