KASHIMA, Japan (AP) Kashima Antlers jumped to the top of the J-League second stage table on Sunday evening, after a 3-2 come-from-behind win over Vegalta Sendai.
Former Kashima stalwart Takuya Nozawa claimed a brace to put Sendai 2-0 up within the first half-an-hour, but Shuto Yamamoto and Shoma Doi struck back for the hosts in the 42nd and 82nd minutes.
Doi then sealed all three points for Antlers with a dramatic 87th-minute winner.
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That improved the seven-time champions to 16 points, one ahead of Sanfrecce Hiroshima who dropped to second after losing 3-0 at home to Kashiwa Reysol.
Brazilian forward Cristiano was the hero for the visitors, claiming a hat-trick with strikes in the 3rd, 63rd, and 77th minutes. The victory improved Reysol to 15 points and they now only trail Hiroshima on goal difference.
In other games, FC Tokyo kept up with the pacesetters at the top of the table after beating 2014 treble winners Gamba Osaka 2-1.
Takuji Yonemoto gave Tokyo the lead in the first half, and although Patric equalized for Gamba in the 47th Nathan Burns was on hand to seal all three points for the capital city side.
Nagoya Grampus joined Tokyo on 13 points after a 1-0 win over Matsumoto Yamaga, while first stage winners Urawa Reds claimed their second consecutive win after downing Shonan Bellmare by the same score.
Elsewhere, Vissel Kobe beat Kawasaki Frontale 2-0, Sagan Tosu downed winless Montedio Yamagata 3-1, and Yokohama F.Marinos overcame Ventforet Kofu 2-0.
Meanwhile, Shimizu S-Pulse and Albirex Niigata drew 1-1.