J.League Review: Urawa extend lead despite draw, Tokushima relegated

Urawa Reds extended their lead atop the J.League despite being held to a 0-0 draw by Ventforet Kofu, while Tokushima Vortis were relegated.

The title favourites were left frustrated by the relegation-threatened visitors, but stretched their advantage to five points over second-placed Gamba Osaka, who lost 1-0 at Kashiwa Reysol.

A 90th-minute strike from midfielder Tetsuro Ota settled the game in Kashiwa's favour.

Kawasaki Frontale are just six points behind Urawa with five games remaining after they beat 10-man Sagan Tosu, who had midfielder Naoyuki Fujita sent off in the 54th minute, 2-0.

That result sees Kawasaki leapfrog Sagan and Kashima Antlers – held to a 0-0 stalemate at Vissel Kobe – into third as the battle to catch the Reds heads towards its conclusion.

At the wrong end of the table Tokushima Vortis finally succumbed to relegation with a 3-1 defeat at second-bottom Cerezo Osaka.

Tokushima have been cut adrift at the foot of the table for the majority of the campaign and were condemned to an immediate to return to the second tier as Cerezo – reduced to 10 men with the dismissal of defender Yuta Someya eight minutes from time – inflicted a 22nd loss of the league season on the visitors.

Cerezo's triumph further tightened matters in a crowded relegation picture, with Yuji Okuma's men now just two points adrift of safety.

Shimizu S-Pulse moved out of the bottom three with a dramatic 2-1 success against Albirex Niigata, Slovenian attacker Milivoje Novakovic's last-gasp goal sealing a win that plunges Ventforet into the drop zone and pulls his side level with Omiya Ardija, whose hopes of survival took another hit with a 3-2 home reverse versus Yokohama F Marinos.

Yoshihito Fujita hit home in the final minute to ensure three points for Yokohama at the end of an enthralling encounter.

Elsewhere, Vegalta Sendai are only three points clear of danger following a goalless draw with Nagoya Grampus, and Tokyo were 2-1 winners over Sanfrecce Hiroshima.