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With two rounds remaining before the league breaks for international match days, teams across Japan struggled to cement their place in the table as the J-League marched on

ANALYSIS
By Dan Orlowitz

Results

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

THE WEEKEND STORIES

After starting the season with a seven-game winless streak, Marinos have stormed back up the league by winning four matches in a row. The latest came on the road against Sanfrecce Hiroshima, where goals by Marquinhos, Manabu Saito, and Seitaro Tomisawa won the day in a 3-1 triumph.

Saturday was also a breath of relief for champions Kashiwa Reysol, who snapped their four-match winless streak with a 2-0 victory at Kawasaki Frontale thanks to goals by Masato Kudo and Jorge Wagner.

First and second-placed Vegalta Sendai and Shimizu S-Pulse recorded 1-1 draws against Osakan opponents Cerezo and Gamba, allowing the teams to remain at the top of the table. Meanwhile at Best Amenity Stadium, high-flying Omiya Ardija threw away a crucial victory against a determined Sagan Tosu. Takuya Aoki gave the visitors the lead in the 82nd minute, but an extra time own-goal allowed the J1 debutants to salvage a draw.

THE STANDINGS | Top Four

  P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Vegalta Sendai 11 7 2 1 21 9 +12 24
2 Shimizu S-Pulse 11 7 1 3 15 10 +5 22
3 S. Hiroshima 11 6 1 4 20 12 +8 19
4 Jubilo Iwata 11 5 3 3 20 16 +4 18

PLAYER OF THE WEEKEND

Masato Kudo

Kashiwa Reysol

Recorded a goal and an assist in Reysol's crucial 2-0 win at Kawasaki Frontale. Exhibited fine play and able to retain possession for long stretches. The 22-year-old showed an eagerness for the goal throughout the match and was a constant threat to the overwhelmed Frontale defence. If Kudo can repeat this performance next week, he may find himself bound for France in Japan's Under-23 squad for Toulon.

QUOTES OF THE WEEKEND

"Even if you look at their recent scores, their performance has been Frontale-esque."
-Koln attacker Jong Tae-Se after watching former club Kawasaki Frontale host Reysol

"Our best play came in the last few minutes, but we can connect the fact that we didn't lose to the next game."
-Shimizu S-Pulse's Alex Brosque after his goal in additional time gave the hosts a late draw against Cerezo

"It's disappointing that the game-deciding goal came after the game had already ended."
-Cerezo manager Sergio Soares, expressing his indignation over the decision to continue play before the 96th-minute Brosque goal

ODDS & ENDS

60 metres -
The length of Sanfrecce midfielder Toshihiro Aoyama's goal; a J-League record for a Japanese player
Visitor's luck -
Only one home team (Jubilo Iwata) was able to win this round
Fan Service -
four teams (Reds, Frontale, Albirex, and Grampus) have brought in over 100,000 spectators in total so far this season

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