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Some teams showed signs of rust following the three-week international break, while the top of the table remained largely unchanged as the J-League once again kicked into gear

ANALYSIS
By Dan Orlowitz

Results

Vegalta Sendai 4-1 Consadole Sapporo, Kashima Antlers 2-3 Nagoya Grampus, Omiya Ardija 2-4 Kashiwa Reysol, Yokohama F. Marinos 1-0 FC Tokyo, Albirex Niigata 1-0 Shimizu S-Pulse, Jubilo Iwata 1-3 Vissel Kobe, Gamba Osaka 1-2 Urawa Reds, Cerezo Osaka 1-4 Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Sagan Tosu 0-1 Kawasaki Frontale

THE WEEKEND STORIES

After a three-week pause for international fixtures, the J-League resumed with what else but a weekend of waterlogged fixtures as the country's rainy season swept into high gear. Vegalta Sendai dominated at home, outshooting Consadole Sapporo 24-6 on the way to a 4-1 victory courtesy of Atsushi Yanagisawa's brace.

Former champions Nagoya Grampus fought back against rivals Kashima Antlers, taking a second-half lead on Mu Kanazaki's 63rd-minute strike only to see it neutralised by Masashi Motoyama just minutes later. An 86th-minute Kensuke Nagai goal, his second of the day, sealed the win for the 2010 champions.

Meanwhile, reigning champions Kashiwa Reysol made life difficult for new Omiya Ardija coach Zdenko Verdinik as they strolled to a 4-2 win at Omiya Stadium. Brazilians Leandro Domingues and Jorge Wagner each contributed a first-half goal, while Masato Kudo found the net on both sides of half-time to bring Reysol up to 10th place with a game in hand.

Last-minute heroics were also on display at Banpaku Memorial Stadium, where Gamba Osaka and Urawa Reds played out another gripping National Derby. Deadlocked at one goal apiece after the first half, the hosts earned the majority of opportunities but it was the Reds' Tsukasa Umesaki who scored the decider in the second minute of additional time.

THE STANDINGS | Top Four

  P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Vegalta Sendai 14 9 3 2 31 13 +18 30
2 S. Hiroshima 14 9 1 4 30 16 +14 28
3 Urawa Reds 14 7 4 3 19 14 +5 25
4 K. Frontale 14 8 1 5 22 21 +1 25

PLAYER OF THE WEEKEND

Kensuke Nagai

Nagoya Grampus

With two goals and one assist, Nagai was a dominant force in Grampus' wild comeback win against Antlers. Sure to be a selection for Japan's Olympic squad, it's only a matter of time before the clever 23-year-old becomes a factor in the country's national team.
QUOTES OF THE WEEKEND

"The only good thing about today's match is that we did nothing right and can put the whole thing behind us."
-FC Tokyo manager Ranko Popovic on his team's underwhelming 1-0 loss at Yokohama F. Marinos

"You can't ask more of a striker after he scores two goals."
-Nagoya Grampus manager Dragan 'Pixy' Stojkovic on game-winner Kensuke Nagai

"All we can do at this point is take things one game at a time."
-Gamba Osaka talisman Yasuhito Endo after his team once again failed to escape the drop zone

ODDS AND ENDS: HOME, BITTERSWEET HOME

Sagan Tosu lost their first home match of the season, while Albirex Niigata finally won their first. Sagan remains in the top half of the table with 20 points from 14 rounds, while Albirex are three points from safety and have scored a league-worst eight goals.

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