SENDAI, Japan (AP) Shu Kurata scored two goals on Sunday as Gamba Osaka beat Vegalta Sendai 3-1 to keep alive their hopes of repeating as J-League champions.
Patric opened the scoring for Gamba in the 21st minute, but Ramon Lopes equalized for the hosts just after the half-hour mark.
Kurata gave Gamba the lead for good with 10 minutes left in the first half and sealed the win in the 61st as Gamba moved into third place in the overall standings with 60 points.
First-stage winner Urawa Reds and Sanfrecce Hiroshima, which currently leads the second-stage standings with two games remaining, have already secured a place in the championship.
The winner of each stage and the top three clubs on the aggregate table qualify for the championship starting in late November.