Japanese champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima’s torrid 2016 continued on Saturday as they were humbled 3-1 in front of their own fans by Gamba Osaka in the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League.
Hajime Moriyasu’s men remain in eighth place with their title defence further derailed as previous champions Gamba roared into a three-goal lead.
Ademilson opened the scoring in the first half before things took an even better turn following strikes by Shu Kurata and Shun Nagasawa after the break.
Peter Utaka pulled a consolation back for Sanfrecce in stoppages to salvage some pride, but the final result still leaves plenty to be desired as their title hopes fade.
Indeed, 10 points clear are leaders Kawasaki Frontale, who drew 0-0 at Albirex Niigata, while Kashima Antlers keep breathing down the former’s neck with a 3-2 result against Nagoya Grampus.
Caio’s double was enough for Masatada Ishii’s men to seal a vital three points at Toyota Stadium, as Japan’s most successful outfit snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
Taishi Taguchi and Akira Takeuchi struck after the break to appear to set Grampus on the road to a 2-1 win, but Yuma Suzuki equalised in the 86th minute before Caio popped up in the 95th minute to secure all the points for Antlers.
Kashiwa Reysol also needed a late show to see out a win by the same 3-2 scoreline against Avispa Fukuoka, after the second-from-bottom visitors had taken a shock lead right before the hour mark.
Vegalta Sendai, Yokohama F.Marinos and Omiya Ardija meanwhile saw out 1-0 wins on the road to Shonan Bellmare, Vissel Kobe and Sagan Tosu respectively, while Jubilo Iwata continued their return to Japan’s top flight by beating Ventforet Kofu 3-1.