Decisive results in the race for the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League Second Stage title occurred on Saturday as Urawa Reds displaced Kawasaki Frontale at the head of the standings.
Mihailo Petrovic’s men kicked off an hour after Frontale at FC Tokyo and were ruthless in a 3-1 win at Ajinomoto Stadium.
Aware that Frontale were losing 3-2 at Omiya Ardija, the Reds battled back from Masato Morishige’s opener for Tokyo and netted thrice in the space of 10 minutes.
Tadanari Lee headed in the equaliser in the 77th minute before Keigo Higashi’s own-goal and Shinzo Koroki’s clincher put a Reds’ win beyond doubt.
It was a crucial result that propels them three points clear of previous leaders Frontale, who surrendered 3-2 to Omiya at Kumagaya Stadium.
In a roller-coaster match, the hosts took the lead through Akihiro Ienaga but Frontale thought they had won it after striking back through Kengo Nakamura and Yu Kobayashi.
But there was time for further twists as Ienaga got his second and Omiya’s equaliser in the 84th minute before Ataru Esaka fired his side in front five minutes later.
It is a result that sees Gamba Osaka overtake Yahiro Kazama’s outfit in the table too – a 3-1 win at troubled Nagoya Grampus moving the 2014 Japanese champions up to second.
Yokohama F.Marinos are up to fourth with a 3-1 result against Albirex Niigata, while Kashima Antlers raced to a routine 3-0 victory against Jubilo Iwata.
Sanfrecce Hiroshima went 3-0 up at Sagan Tosu before nervously finishing the game 3-2, narrowly holding on for a precious result.
At the other end of the table, Avispa Fukuoka rode their luck and struck twice in the first 15 minutes to record a vital 2-0 win at Shonan Bellmare despite finishing the match with 10 men.
In other results, Ventforet Kofu and Vissel Kobe played out 1-1 draws against Vegalta Sendai and Kashiwa Reysol respectively.