Sanfrecce Hiroshima moved two points clear of Vegalta Sendai at the top of the J.League standings with a valuable victory on Wednesday.
Goals from Koji Morisaki, Hisato Sato and Hiroki Mizumoto secured a 3-0 win for Sanfrecce over Consadole Sapporo at Hiroshima Big Arch.
Hiroshima lead the way on 58 points with three matches remaining, while Sendai are second on 56 points.
Sendai could have gone equal on points with Sanfrecce but were left to rue a 1-1 draw at home to Cerezo Osaka, with Noaki Sugai scoring a late equaliser for the hosts.
Elsewhere, Brazilian forward Renatinho netted a hat-trick as Kawasaki Frontale stunned Urawa Reds 4-2 at Kawasaki Todoroki Stadium.
Urawa, who have taken just one point from their past four matches, are third on 49 points and all but out of contention for the title with an inferior goal difference.
Nagoya Grampus climbed to fourth after Marcus Tanaka’s 30th-minute goal earned a 1-0 win at home to FC Tokyo.
Nagoya are level on points with Urawa, who occupy the third and final AFC Champions League place on offer in the league.
Shimizu S-Pulse slipped to fifth following a 1-0 loss to Albirex Niigata, while Yokohama F. Marinos moved to sixth with a 2-1 win over Vissel Kobe.
Sagan Tosu survived a late scare against Jubilo Iwata before prevailing 3-2, and Kashiwa Reysol fell to eighth following a dramatic 2-2 draw with Gamba Osaka.
Omiya Ardija and the Kashima Antlers played out a 0-0 stalemate.