Kashima Antlers missed the chance to be crowned MEIJI YASUDA J1 League winners on the penultimate weekend of the season with a 0-0 draw against Kashiwa Reysol.
The reigning Japanese champions could have sewn up their title defence with a victory, but were unable to break down Reysol’s wall despite thoroughly dominating proceedings.
Go Oiwa’s men now only need to win their final match of the season against Jubilo Iwata, though, to be handed the crown.
Alternatively, Antlers will also retain the prize should second-placed Kawasaki Frontale fail to win any of their remaining two games in hand, with the latter facing newly-crowned AFC Champions League winners Urawa Reds on Wednesday.
Cerezo Osaka meanwhile sewed up qualification to the ACL preliminary qualifying stages following a 3-1 win over Vissel Kobe sealed by Kenyu Sugimoto’s brace, to seal a stunning return to Japan’s top-flight.
At the other end of the table, Sanfrecce Hiroshima secured survival in the first tier with a 2-1 victory over FC Tokyo earned by Sho Inagaki’s winner.
Who between Shimizu S-Pulse and Ventforet Kofu will join relegated Omiya Ardija and Albirex Niigata in the MEIJI YASUDA J2 League will be determined in the final round.
S-Pulse suffered a huge setback when they lost 3-2 at home to doomed Albirex despite roaring into a two-goal lead, and must win at Vissel next to be absolutely sure of survival.