Sanfrecce Hiroshima bounced back from last week’s loss to extend their lead in the J.League with a 2-1 win over Jubilo Iwata on Saturday.
Hajime Moriyasu’s team suffered their first defeat in 10 games against Urawa Reds in their previous match, but a 77th-minute strike from Seok-Ho Hwang sealed the three points on this occasion.
Hwang’s goal added to the earlier effort from Hisato Sato, but they have no breathing room at the top of the league after Yokohama F. Marinos won again.
The second-placed team remained within one point of the summit courtesy of a 2-1 victory over Sagan Tosu, which came after goals from Shunsuke Nakamura and Marquinhos.
It marks the 14th goal of the season for the Brazilian Marquinhos and keeps Yokohama in the frame for their fourth J.League title after missing out on a top-three spot for the past eight years.
Omiya Ardija, on the other hand, lost further ground in the race for top spot with a 3-0 loss to Cerezo Osaka, their fifth defeat on the bounce.
Yoichiro Kakitani opened the scoring after three minutes and went on to double his tally before the break, with Fabio Simplicio sealing the deal after the interval to push Osaka up to fifth.
There were also some shocks at the bottom as Oita Trinita clinched a goalless draw against Kashiwa Reysol to end a four-game losing streak.
Kazuaki Tasaka’s side remain bottom but were assisted in their fight against relegation when 16th-placed Shonan Bellmare lost 3-1 at Shimizu S-Pulse.
Dzenan Radoncic’s double handed the hosts the first-half advantage and Yuzo Iwakami was dismissed for the visitors after the interval.
Daisuke Kikuchi’s late strike reduced the deficit but the 10-men conceded again with five minutes to play, Kazuya Murata scoring.
Elsewhere on Saturday, there were also wins for Vegalta Sendai and Nagoya Grampus, with the former beating Kashima Antlers 2-1 while Nagoya kept a clean sheet in their 2-0 victory over Urawa.
The action also saw draws for Ventforet Kofu and Tokyo, who both came from behind to clinch points in their respective encounters against Albirex Niigata and Kawasaki Frontale.