Kashima Antlers are back on top of the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League after the first half of the season drew to a close on Wednesday, with the Japanese champions beating Gamba Osaka 1-0.
Go Oiwa’s men continued their perfect start under the new manager as Yasushi Endo fired home the winner in the 55th minute, and Antlers held out against waves of Gamba pressure to clinch a potentially decisive three points.
It is strong finish in direct contrast to Urawa Reds who have lost four of their last five games, with the latest, a 4-1 defeat at Kawasaki Frontale, leaving them languishing in eighth.
That man Yu Kobayashi was once again at his influential best with a brace, the striker’s second goal arriving at a crucial time when the Reds threatened to find their way back into the clash with Tomoaki Makino’s consolation goal.
It is a win that moves Frontale up to fifth place - only four points behind new leaders Antlers as the second half of the season beckons.