Bellmare & Avispa neck-and-neck as promotion race tightens

Bellmare & Avispa neck-and-neck as promotion race tightens

Shonan Bellmare remained on top of the MEIJI YASUDA J2 League table following their 2-0 win against third-place Tokushima Vortis on Saturday.

Goals by Dinei and Hiroki Akino in the second half gave the crowd at BMW Stadium plenty to cheer about despite occasionally inclement weather.

Second-place Avispa Fukuoka kept apace, winning 2-0 against Montedio Yamagata through goals by Wellington and Daisuke Ishizu.

Yokohama FC rose to fourth place with a 2-1 win at Renofa Yamaguchi, marking their third straight victory.

Yamaguchi native Naoki Nomura found the back of the net for Yokohama after just five minutes, while Ibba scored his league-leading 17th goal of the season late in the match to seal the win.

Fagiano Okayama downed fifth-place V-Varen Nagasaki with a 2-0 result on Sunday to climb to seventh place in the standings, while Nagoya Grampus held on to sixth place with a 1-0 win at Roasso Kumamoto.

A dramatic Ryusei Saito goal deep in stoppage time gave Mito Hollyhock a 3-2 victory against Tokyo Verdy, who just five minutes earlier had equalised through Douglas Viera. 

The result allowed Hollyhock to leapfrog into ninth place, with eighth-place Matsumoto Yamaga and 10th-place Oita Trinita also earning three points.

The fight for playoff positioning remains intense as ever: at 35 points, 16th-place Montedio are just five away from Grampus who narrowly lead Fagiano on goal difference.

The campaign will continue with a slate of 10 matches on August 5, with Nagoya Grampus closing out Round 26 the following day against Ehime FC at home.