A brace by Daiju Sasaki and a Haruya Ide header shortly before halftime gave Vissel Kobe a commanding 3-1 win over Kashima Antlers on Saturday, as the team continued its seemingly unassailable march towards its first-ever J. League first-division title.

Sasaki put Kobe, playing a “home” game at Tokyo’s National Stadium that nevertheless drew a near-capacity crowd, put the team ahead with his 16th-minute header, before all but sealing the result with a tight-angled volley in the 83rd minute that threaded the needle between Antlers goalkeeper Tomoki Hayakawa’s outstretched hands and the crossbar.

“We all fought and ran together to earn this result,” Sasaki said. “Even if I felt like I was dying, even if my leg was hurting, I wanted to do whatever I could for this win.”