Yokohama F Marinos are the new leaders on the J.League table following a 1-1 draw at Omiya Ardija on Sunday.The three-time league champions needed just a point from their trip to Omiya Park to ascend to the top after long-time leaders Kashima Reysol lost on Saturday.
Their progress seemed all but assured after a bright start was capped by 18-year-old attacker Yuji Ono’s goal in the 37th minute.
Ono, a fledging Japan Under-23 international, had not scored since a brace against Avispa Fukuoka in May.
Omiya improved as the game wore on and eventually evened the ledger in the 74th minute through Rafael, the Brazilian import finding the net for the fourth time this season.
But Yokohama held firm until the final whistle to replace Kashiwa at the top of the table on goal difference. Both clubs have 34 points from 17 games.
Elsewhere, Nagoya Grampus continued to improve with a 2-0 win at Montedio Yamagata.
Usual suspects Keiji Tamada (43) and Josh Kennedy (57) scored in either half to lift Nagoya to their third straight win, one that sees the reigning champions replace Kawasaki Frontale in third.
Tamada has scored nine goals this campaign, joining Gamba Osaka striker Adriano and Ventforet Kofu’s Mike Havenaar at the top of the scorers’ table.
Australia international Kennedy has added eight for Nagoya.
In other results, Kashima Antlers rose to 10th on the table with a 3-0 thumping of Vegalta Sendai.
Chikashi Masuda (13) and Takuya Nozawa (18) stunned the visitors with back-to-back goals inside the first 20 minutes. Yuzo Tashiro (69) sealed the game in the second half.
Urawa Red Diamonds’ uneven start to the domestic campaign continued with a 1-1 draw at Jubilo Iwata.
Urawa looked to have secured the three points as they entered injury time up 1-0 on Yosuke Kashiwagi’s 29th-minute strike.
But the visitors conceded a penalty in the final moments to Japan international Ryoichi Maeda, who gleefully converted to snatch a share of the points for Iwata.