KASHIMA, Japan — Kashima Antlers maintained control of the J-League second stage table on Saturday, comfortably overcoming last-placed Montedio Yamagata 3-0.
Mu Kanazaki gave hosts Kashima the lead in the 40th minute, before Caio and Yasushi Endo added goals in the second half to improve the Ibaraki side to 19 points.
That win made it five-from-five for coach Masatada Ishii since he took over from former Brazil international Toninho Cerezo last month, and left Antlers a point clear of Sanfrecce Hiroshima at the top.
Sanfrecce made sure it stayed within touching distance with a first win in three games, downing Albirex Niigata 2-0 with goals from Tsukasa Shiotani and Kazuyuki Morisaki.
Kashiwa Reysol sits third, behind Hiroshima on goal difference, after beating Matsumoto Yamaga 2-0 Thursday.
Four teams are then clustered on 14 points after eight rounds of matches, with first stage champions Urawa Reds leading the charge after a 3-1 win over struggling Vegalta Sendai.
Yosuke Kashiwagi gave Mihailo Petrovic's side the lead with a free kick before Ryang Yong-gi equalized for the visitors. Goals from Yuki Muto - against his old club - and Zlatan Ljubijankic made sure of all three points for Urawa.
Shonan Bellmare's come-from-behind 2-1 win over Kawasaki Frontale leaves the club with an identical second stage record to Urawa, while Nagoya Grampus and FC Tokyo's 0-0 stalemate bumped both up to 14 points as well.
Elsewhere, Gamba Osaka beat Shimizu S-Pulse 1-0, Yokohama F.Marinos rallied to defeat Sagan Tosu 2-1 and Ventforet Kofu edged further away from the relegation zone with a 1-0 win against Vissel Kobe.