Reds pull plug on 'Whirlpool' to open J-League gap
Table-topping Urawa Reds heaped more misery on Tokushima Vortis in their first season in Japan's top flight with a 2-0 win on Wednesday that left the islanders hopelessly adrift in the drop zone.
Defender Tomoaki Makino's toe-poked opener and a ferocious Shinzo Koroki blast 12 minutes into the second half saw the visitors extend their lead at the top to four points as the 2007 Asian champions also kept a J-League record seventh successive clean sheet.
Urawa, Japan's best-supported club, improved to 35 points from 16 games.
Vortis, whose name is derived from the Italian for 'whirlpool' and a nod to the famous sea pools off Tokushima island in western Japan, got that sinking feeling again after their 13th defeat of a troubled campaign.
After winning promotion for the first time via the playoffs, they remain marooned at the bottom of the J-League first division with just five points and odds-on to make a swift return to J-2.
Kawasaki Frontale did high-flying Urawa a favour by producing a 1-0 victory at second-placed Sagan Tosu.
Left-back Kyohei Noborizato dribbled into the box to stab home from a tight angle just after the hour mark to give Frontale their third win in a row, keeping them third and to within a point of Sagan.
Defending champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima ended a frustrating run of form by thrashing Kashiwa Reysol 5-2 at home, a last-minute rocket by substitute Koji Morisaki capping a fine display.
Elsewhere, recent Brazilian signing Leandro Domingues rescued a point for Nagoya Grampus with a stunning injury-time volley in a pulsating 3-3 draw at Vegalta Sendai.
Plucky Omiya Ardija earned a valuable point in a 2-2 draw at once-mighty Kashima Antlers, Slovenia striker Zlatan Ljubijankic smashing in a 68th-minute volley for the visitors, languishing second from bottom on 15 points. Kashima stay fourth on 26 points.
Gamba Osaka overpowered Shimizu S-Pulse 4-0, Brazilians Patric and Lins getting on the scoresheet while Vissel Kobe slipped from fifth to sixth after a 1-1 stalemate at Yokohama F-Marinos.