A Shunsuke Nakamura free-kick enabled title-chasing Yokohoma F Marinos to retain top spot in the J.League with a 1-0 win over Oita Trinita.
The former Celtic playmaker struck after 45 minutes on Sunday, leaving Yokohama two points clear at the top with four games to play and a step closer to their first title in nine years.
Defending champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima had briefly taken over at the summit with a 1-0 victory of their own against Vegalta Sendai the previous day.
They sit three points behind Yokohama, while Urawa Reds are just two points from the summit after keeping the pressure on the leaders with a 2-1 win over Kashiwa Reysol, who they will meet again in next week’s League Cup final.
Two goals from Yosuke Kashiwagi within the first 11 minutes were enough for Urawa despite Kashiwa replying through Masato Kudo.
The slim title hopes of fourth-placed Kashima Antlers were kept alive courtesy of a thumping 4-1 win over Kawasaki Frontale, while Cerezo Osaka suffered a surprise 2-0 defeat away to Sagan Tosu.
At the other end of the table, Shonan Bellmare slipped closer to relegation as Kengo Kawamata scored a hat-trick, with the aid of two penalties, in a 3-2 victory for Albirex Niigata.
Jubilo Iwata's troubles continued as they lost 1-0 at home to local rivals Shimizu S-Pulse, a result that would have seen them relegated had Ventforet Kofu managed to better their 1-1 draw at home to FC Tokyo.
Elsewhere, Nagoya Grampus overtook visitors Omiya Ardija with a 2-1 win.
|Coach: K. Tasaka|
for K. Tokita 56'
for M. Miyazawa 69'
for H. Nishi 79'
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