Vissel Kobe earned a much-needed 2-1 MEIJI YASUDA J1 League win over Gamba Osaka on Saturday, the embattled visitors matching their hosts in a strong showing.
Nelsinho had been removed from his position after a string of disappointing results and it has fallen to interim boss Takayuki Yoshida to lead Vissel out of the slump.
With Lukas Podolski leading from the front, the guests struck first through Kazuma Watanabe and then doubled the lead through Kotaro Omori.
Shu Kurata pulled one back but it was insufficient for Gamba to come back in a week in which it was announced Kenta Hasegawa would be stepping down from his managerial position at the end of the season.
Cerezo Osaka likewise turned around a streak of indifferent form, hammering FC Tokyo 4-1 through Peter Utaka’s brace, but Urawa Reds continue to be mired in a bad patch, losing 2-1 at home to Kashiwa Reysol.
The mixed, see-sawing results of their title rivals are allowing Kashima Antlers to continue sprinting to a second title win in a row, with the champions edging past Omiya Ardija 1-0.
Kawasaki Frontale remain six points behind after ousting direct rivals Yokohama F. Marinos 3-0 to go two points clear of the latter, while Sanfrecce Hiroshima fought to a 0-0 draw in a relegation six-pointer against Albirex Niigata - a result that does little much good.
That was key for the survival hopes of Consadole Sapporo and Shimizu S-Pulse, who earned wins over Jubilo Iwata and Ventforet Kofu respectively.