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After Makoto Teguramori's side comfortably led the league for most of the spring, the top of the table become considerably more crowded after a series of last-minute stunners

ANALYSIS
By Dan Orlowitz

Results

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

THE WEEKEND STORIES

Sagan Tosu opened the round on Friday with a dramatic finish, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Gamba Osaka 3-2. The result was poetic justice for Sagan, who were on the wrong end of the same circumstance last week at FC Tokyo.

Kawasaki Frontale continued to show signs of life, defeating leaders Vegalta Sendai on an injury-time goal by Takuro Yajima. The win brings Frontale up to seventh place and ensures that going into the three-week international break, the top third of the table are separated by just five points.

In Kobe, Akira Nishino couldn't get a win from his new club as Vissel fell 2-1 to Kashima Antlers.

Finally in Tokyo, Urawa Reds jumped out to a late lead thanks to Marcio Richardes' 88th-minute goal, but were unable to return to Saitama with three points when an injury-time header by Masato Morishige forced the game to end in a 1-1 draw.

THE STANDINGS | Top Four

  P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Vegalta Sendai 13 8 3 2 27 12 +15 27
2 S. Hiroshima 13 8 1 4 26 15 +11 25
3 Jubilo Iwata 13 7 3 3 30 17 +13 24
4 Shimizu S-Pulse 13 7 2 4 15 11 +4 23

PLAYER OF THE WEEKEND

Naoyuki Fujita

Sagan Tosu

Down 2-0 at Gamba Osaka, Fujita led an inspired comeback by scoring a double as well as providing an assist through a long throw-in.

The win was Sagan's first on the road this season and the plucky Kyushu squad now head into the break in eighth place; a meritorious achievement for the team that waited longer than any other to reach J1.

QUOTES OF THE WEEKEND

"Since I joined Grampus this is the most dangerous time we've faced as a club."
-Centre-back Marcus Tulio Tanaka after a loss at Cerezo left the 2010 champions in 13th place heading into the break.

"If we'd been able to score earlier it would have been a much different match, but I guess that's football for you."
-Urawa Reds goalkeeper Nobuhiro Kato after allowing a late goal at FC Tokyo and settling for a 1-1 draw.

"I've always promised to watch over Kashiwa Reysol, and now I want to pass my spirit on to you so that you can all promise to do the same for me."
-Kashiwa Reysol veteran Hideaki Kitajima speaking to supporters following the announcement of his loan to J2 side Roasso Kumamoto.

ODDS AND ENDS

22,766 - Attendance at Homes Stadium in Kobe; a season-high for Vissel as fans flocked to see new manager Nishino.

10 - Number of goals scored this season by Sanfrecce Hiroshima striker Hisato Sato.

45 years, 3 months - Age of Kazuyoshi Miura of second division club Yokohama FC, who became Japan's oldest professional goal-scorer this weekend against Gainare Tottori.

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