Cerezo Osaka saw off Kashiwa Reysol 2-1 in their MEIJI YASUDA J1 League title six-pointer to return to the top of the table on Saturday.
The newly-promoted outfit returned to their perch in spite of falling behind when Kosuke Taketomi netted the opener in the first half with a glorious diving header.
Reysol had the chance to double their league but Cristiano had his effort come off the post, with the visitors rueing the miss when Kenyu Sugimoto and Elierce Souza fired Cerezo to victory in front of a triumphant KINCHO Stadium crowd.
Kashima Antlers were kept off the top by FC Tokyo as the capital side held the champions to a 2-2 draw, in the process ending Go Oiwa’s winning streak as Antlers boss.
Kento Hashimoto struck either side of the break with his brace forcing Pedro Junior to reply with his own, with the visitors still remaining unbeaten under the tenure of Oiwa.
Vissel Kobe, perhaps boosted by news of their signings Mike Havenaar and Lukas Podolski, fired a statement of intent entering the second half of the season, surging to a 3-0 win over Vegalta Sendai.
Gamba Osaka fell further off the title track with a 2-0 loss at Shimizu S-Pulse while Kawasaki Frontale roared back from 2-0 down at Sagan Tosu to win 3-2, with Yu Kobayashi scoring the winner right after the hour mark to move his side third.
Akito Fukumori ensured Consadole Sapporo’s clash with Omiya Ardija finished full of drama, as the centre-back completed a rare brace in the 96th minute to ensure a share of the spoils in their 2-2 draw at NACK5 Stadium.
Anderson Lopes helped Sanfrecce Hiroshima stall Yokohama F. Marinos victory as his 90th-minute strike cancelled out Naoki Maeda’s opener nine minutes earlier for a 1-1 draw.
At last, Ventforet Kofu’s 1-0 loss at Jubilo Iwata means Satoru Sakuma’s men remain dangerously poised right above the relegation zone and only kept out on goal difference.