J. League title race drops down to three

Japanese Soccer

J. League title race drops down to three.
Match day at Toyota Stadium
J. League

There are three teams left in the J. League title race after Shimizu S-Pulse and FC Tokyo both dropped out of the running following the latest round of fixtures.

A Renatinho hat-trick propelled Kawasaki Frontale to a 3-2 win over relegated JEF United in a thriller watched by 18,470 fans at Todoroki Stadium.

Renatinho had already hit the post with one header before JEF United took the lead against the run of play, as a Seiichiro Maki header ballooned off the crossbar, with Kohei Kudo on hand to volley the rebound home.

It took until the second half for Kawasaki to respond, as Renatinho converted a spot-kick after playmaker Kengo Nakamura had been felled inside the area, and the Brazilian scored again soon after with the help of a vital deflection.

United pulled a goal back two minutes from time thanks to a scrappy finish from defender Takumi Wada, however Renatinho stole the headlines with his third goal just seconds later, as he tapped home a cut-back from compatriot Juninho to seal the win.

Kawasaki's late victory was bad news for second placed Kashima Antlers - although they beat lowly Montedio Yamagata 2-0 at home, while third-placed Gamba Osaka hammered Kansai neighbours Kyoto Sanga 4-1 in a derby watched by 20,394 fans at a jam-packed Expo '70 Stadium.

The shock of the round came at Kashiwa Hitachi Stadium, where fourth placed Shimizu S-Pulse crashed to a stunning 5-0 defeat at the hands of Kashiwa Reysol, who are struggling to avoid relegation.

A crowd of 40,701 fans turned out at Ajinomoto Stadium in the capital, but the home fans left disappointed as FC Tokyo crashed to a 1-0 defeat to regional rivals Urawa Reds, with Edmilson scoring the only goal of the game.

Shimizu S-Pulse and FC Tokyo have now dropped out of the title race, as Kawasaki Frontale lead Kashima Antlers by a point with three games remaining, while Gamba Osaka are a further three points back.

At the other end of the standings, bottom club Oita Trinita will be joined in J2 by JEF United, while Kashiwa Reysol currently occupy the third relegation place - some six points behind Omiya Ardija.

Full November 8 results
Nagoya Grampus 1 Vissel Kobe 0
Jubilo Iwata 0 Albirex Niigata 2
Kashima Antlers 2 Montedio Yamagata 0
FC Tokyo 0 Urawa Reds 1
Kawasaki Frontale 3 JEF United 2
Kashiwa Reysol 5 Shimizu S-Pulse 0
Omiya Ardija 0 Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1
Yokohama F. Marinos 1 Oita Trinita 2
Gamba Osaka 4 Kyoto Sanga 1


Cerezo Osaka maintained their lead at the top of the J2 standings with a 5-0 thrashing of Thespa Kusatsu watched by 20,727 fans at Nagai Stadium.

Takashi Inui was the star for Cerezo as he scored four times, with the former J1 club needing just one more victory to confirm their return to the top flight.

Elsewhere, second placed Vegalta Sendai hammered Mito Hollyhock 4-0 on the road, while Shonan Bellmare and Tokyo Verdy played out an entertaining 2-2 draw in Hiratsuka.

Fourth placed Ventforet Kofu went down 2-1 at Avispa Fukuoka, as their battle with Shonan Bellmare for the third and final promotion place heats up.

J.League news and reports.

Copyright © Michael Tuckerman & Soccerphile.com

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