The promotion and relegation battles got even tighter on Sunday on the second day of the MEIJI YASUDA J2 League’s Round 37.
Goals from Genki Omae and Chong Tese saw Shimizu S-Pulse win 2-0 over Giravanz Kitakyushu, sending the southern side to last place while moving the J.League co-founders up to third, within three points of Matsumoto Yamaga and the second automatic promotion spot.
Yamaga drew 1-1 against Ehime FC while Cerezo Osaka slipped into fourth with a 2-2 home draw against Montedio Yamagata.
Fagiano Okayama saw their hopes of hosting a J1 Promotion Playoff match take a hit as they drifted to five points from fourth place with a 2-1 loss to Zweigen Kanazawa.
The result allowed the visitors to leapfrog from last place into safety.
A 73rd-minute game winner by Tomohiro Tsuda gave Yokohama FC a 3-2 win over Thespa Kusatsu Gunma, drawing them to within eight points of Kyoto Sanga who currently occupy sixth place and the final spot in the play-offs.