Sanfrecce Hiroshima had goalkeeper Takuto Hayashi to thank as they secured a 1-0 win at Kashiwa Reysol to move five points clear at the top of the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League.
Sho Sasaki blasted in a venomous shot early on for what proved Sanfrecce’s winner, but it was Hayashi who came up big every with his saves including keeping out a penalty from Cristiano.
Second-placed Kawasaki Frontale will have been frustrated they could not keep up the pace having been held 1-1 by Yokohama F. Marinos.
Akihiro Ienaga scored the opener for reigning Japanese champions Frontale but they could not hold on to their lead, letting in Yuji Nakazawa’s equaliser three minutes after.
FC Tokyo had no such problems at V-Varen Nagasaki as they overcame their hosts 5-2 through Diego Oliveira’s brace, but Gamba Osaka endured a home setback losing 1-0 to Vissel Kobe after Shuhei Otsuki’s 95th-minute winner.