The intoxicating lunacy of the J League was on display at the weekend, as yet again, the top three teams failed to gather maximum points. Like punch drunk boxers at the end of a brawl, F-Marinos, Sanfrecce and Urawa Reds appear incapable of summoning the necessary strength of will and composure to take the title. Each time one of these clubs gathers enough momentum to take the ascendancy, they inevitably falter, seemingly unable to navigate a path to success.
While it’s almost certain one of these clubs will stumble over the line first, Kashima Antlers have re-emerged again and sit only three points off the top in fourth place, as the championship race looks increasingly likely to be settled on the last day of the campaign.
Urawa Reds kicked off on Sunday evening in Sendai in the knowledge that victory would take them clear at the top. The incentive materialised as a result of Yokohama F Marinos’ home defeat to Nagoya Gramous earlier in the day, and Sanfrecce Hiroshima’s 1-1 draw away to Kashiwa Reysol. A breathless match finished 3-3 as Vegalta Sendai equalised deep into added on time.
Cerezo Osaka remain in contention for an ACL spot, taking all three points at away to FC Tokyo thanks to a late goal from Yoichiro Kakitani. Three times J1 champions, Jubilo Iwata were officially relegated for the first time in their history as they went down to a single goal defeat to Sagan Tosu.
Vegalta Sendai 3-3 Urawa Reds
FC Tokyo 1-2 Cerezo Osaka
Kashiwa Reysol 1-1 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Yokohama F Marinos 1-2 Nagoya Grampus
Shonan Bellmare 1-2 Kashima Antlers
Sagan Tosu 1-0 Jubilo Iwata
Oita Trinita 1-3 Albirex Niigata
Omiya Ardija 1-2 Ventforet Kofu
Kawasaki Frontale 2-0 Shimizu S-Pulse
Click on Chris’s name to follow him on Twitter