The race for the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League is not done and dusted yet, as Kawasaki Frontale saw off Gamba Osaka 1-0 to stay within reach of leaders Kashima Antlers.
Elsinho’s 82nd-minute winner finally broke down stubborn Gamba defending and kept Toru Oniki’s men ahead of their visitors’ city rivals Cerezo Osaka, who downed Yokohama F. Marinos in emphatic 4-1 fashion.
Cerezo’s second-half avalanche of goals was enough to overturn an early opener from David Babunski and sees them on course to qualify for the AFC Champions League next season.
At the other end of the table, Sanfrecce Hiroshima held on to beat Vissel Kobe 2-1 to climb out of the relegation zone, as Ventforet Kofu are dragged into the thick of the survival battle losing 1-0 at bottom side Albirex Niigata.
Omiya Ardija slipped down further after being hammered 3-0 by Vegalta Sendai, the latter overtaking FC Tokyo in the table after the capital side slumped 2-1 at Sagan Tosu.
Consadole Sapporo now have safety in their sights after overcoming Shimizu S-Pulse following Jay Bothroyd’s brace, as the season enters its penultimate phases.