Yokohama F.Marinos have risen to the top of the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League table following their 2-2 draw at Sanfrecce Hiroshima on Sunday.
Erick Mombaerts continued their excellent start to the Second Stage with a result at Edion Stadium, taking the lead right after the half hour mark through Fabio.
The visitors attacked their shell-shocked hosts and finished the game with the better chances, as Sanfrecce supporters had to wait till the 80th minute for a response from their team.
Yusuke Minagawa pulled one back before Hisato Sato put Sanfrecce in the lead for the first time two minutes later, but F.Marinos were not done yet.
Sho Ito rose to meet Yuzo Kobayashi’s cross with his head to divert it past Takuto Hayashi’s grasp, piling more pressure on the Japanese champions and giving his team their lofty position in the standings.
They capitalised on Kashima Antlers’ emphatic 3-3 draw at Ventforet Kofu that saw Sho Inagaki put the latter in front as early as the third minute, with Taro Sugimoto equalising three minutes later.
Yasushi Endo then gave Antlers the half-time lead with his strike in the 27th minute but things threatened to go out of control when Masato Kurogi pegged them back after the break, before Dudu put Ventforet in front.
The goals had not dried up as Atsutaka Nakamura levelled the game for Mastada Ishii’s title contenders in the 71st minute, but the First Stage winners will sense an opportunity gone begging.
That is as Kawasaki Frontale were held to a 1-1 draw half an hour later at Jubilo Iwata, as Yu Kobayashi was required to cancel out Jay Bothroyd’s opening strike.
Urawa Reds are right there in the mix as well despite being twice pegged back in a 2-2 draw against Omiya Ardija, while Gamba Osaka could only managed a 0-0 stalemate versus unfancied Avispa Fukuoka.
Sagan Tosu and Nagoya Grampus likewise battled to a scoreless draw, as Kashiwa Reysol snuck a 1-0 result at FC Tokyo through Junya Ito.
Usual suspects Kazuma Watanabe and Leandro secured Vissel Kobe a 2-0 win against Shonan Bellmare, and Vegalta Sendai snatched a crucial result in the relegation race by winning 2-1 at Albirex Niigata.