The 35th round of the 2016 MEIJI YASUDA J2 League took place on Saturday as several teams hoped to change their fortunes in the final stretch of the season.
A fifth-minute goal by Jonathan Reis was enough to see leaders Consadole Sapporo win 1-0 over Mito Hollyhock, extending their unbeaten streak to eight games.
The leaders extended their advantage over second place Matsumoto Yamaga to nine games after the Alwin Stadium residents drew 1-1 against Fagiano Okayama.
Cerezo Osaka led 3-0 against FC Gifu after goals by Kazuya Yamamura, Kenyu Sugimoto and Keiji Tamada, but had to beat back a late comeback from the visitors as the match finished 3-2. Cerezo are now just two points behind Yamaga and an automatic promotion to the J1 League.
Just behind them in fourth place are Shimizu S-Pulse, who comfortably won 2-0 against Machida Zelvia at IAI Stadium Nihondaira thanks to goals by Genki Omae and Chong Tese.
At the bottom of the table, last-place Giravanz Kitakyushu managed a 1-1 draw at Tokyo Verdy and are four points from safety.
Above them in 21st, Zweigen Kanazawa are within one point of escaping the J2-J3 Promotion/Relegation Playoff following their 1-0 win against Renofa Yamaguchi.