The race for automatic promotion to next season’s J1 League tightened considerably on Sunday as the current 2016 MEIJI YASUDA J2 League leaders both dropped points on the road.
Leaders Consadole Sapporo managed a scoreless draw at V-Varen Nagasaki, while second place Matsumoto Yamaga fought back to draw 1-1 at Thespa Kusatsu Gunma thanks to Paulinho’s third goal since his arrival this summer.
Those results allowed Cerezo Osaka to move within one point of the second promotion spot after Kenyu Sugimoto scored in his return from injury to lead the team to a 1-0 win at relegation-threatened Giravanz Kitakyushu.
Byeon Jun-Byum’s dramatic stoppage time game-winner gave Shimizu S-Pulse a 2-1 home win against Mito Hollyhock.
It was a result that lifted the J.League co-founders to fourth place on goal difference over Fagiano Okayama, who drew 0-0 at Roasso Kumamoto.
Yokohama FC also signaled their intent to stay in the J1 Promotion Playoff race, riding Ibba’s brace to a 2-0 win against sixth place Kyoto Sanga whom they now trail by just four points.
The upcoming week will be a busy one for several sides as they contest the third round of the Emperor’s Cup on Thursday before the next league round this Sunday