Cerezo Osaka missed the opportunity to go level on points at the top of the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League table with a 1-1 draw against Shimizu S-Pulse, as Hiroshi Kiyotake’s equaliser at the death was needed to seal a draw.
The Yanmar Stadium residents have enjoyed a remarkable season since coming up from the J2 League, and entered the weekend within touching distance of leaders Kashiwa Reysol at the top.
However, things did not go to plan early on as Chong Tese struck in the third minute to hand fellow promoted side S-Pulse the lead, and Cerezo were unable to rally until late with Kiyotake rescued them from the jaws of defeat with a 94th-minute equaliser.
Yoon Jong-hwan’s surprise packages will count the clash as a missed opportunity particularly given Reysol’s 0-0 draw at Ventforet Kofu.
The leaders remain three points clear of Gamba Osaka who sealed a 1-0 win at Vissel Kobe through Shun Nagasawa, with Nelsinho’s men now having only won twice in their last five league outings.
Go Oiwa continued his excellent start to life as Kashima Antlers coach as he led them to a 3-0 victory against Consadole Sapporo, with Pedro Junior’s brace seeing the reigning champions to the win inside the first 30 minutes.
Hiroyuki Abe’s winner meanwhile saw Kawasaki Frontale overcome Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-0, with the fallen visitors now only kept off the bottom of the table by Albirex Niigata.
The latter faced Omiya Ardija in an early relegation six-pointer on Saturday and immediately fell two goals behind following Ataru Esaki strikes in the first half, with Ryohei Yamazaki’s goal on the hour mark not enough to salvage a point.
Sagan Tosu and Vegalta Sendai, two sides at risk of being dragged into the battle for survival, avoided such a fate when they earned a 1-1 draw at Best Amenity Stadium in Saturday’s final game.