Hiroshima on course for J-League title
Sanfrecce Hiroshima stayed on course for the J-League second-stage title with an impressive 2-0 victory at last year's Japanese treble winners Gamba Osaka on Saturday.
Brazilian striker Douglas smashed home a free kick 10 minutes into the second half in Osaka before Kohei Shimizu added a late second as Hiroshima improved to 37 points from 16 games.
Kashima Antlers beat Yokohama F-Marinos 2-0 at home to move onto 34 points but Hiroshima's superior goal difference means the 2012 and 2013 J-League champions look set to top the two-stage standings after the final round of matches on November 22.
Finishing top on aggregate over the two stages of the season will guarantee Hiroshima qualify directly for the championship final.
Gamba, beaten by the Antlers in last weekend's J-League Cup final, finished the game with 10 men after forward Patric was sent off in stoppage time and slipped to fourth place on 28 points.
First-stage winners Urawa Reds were held to a 1-1 draw by Kawasaki Frontale that kept Japan's best-supported club fifth, behind bitter rivals Gamba on goal difference.
Japan defender Masato Morishige scored the winner from the penalty spot as visiting FC Tokyo beat Kashiwa Reysol 1-0 while at the foot of the table Matsumoto Yamaga became the third team to be relegated from the top flight after a 2-1 defeat at Vissel Kobe.
Northern Japanese side Albirex Niigata were given a warm ovation by their fans after successfully avoiding the drop despite being beaten 2-0 at home by Shonan Bellmare.