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By ESPN Staff

Kashiwa miss big chance

Kashiwa Reysol missed the chance to go top of the J.League after they lost 3-1 at home to relegation-threatened Omiya Ardija.

Omiya's Brazilian striker Rafael struck twice while Takuya Aoki also found the back of the net as Omiya moved five points clear of the relegation zone. Kashiwa remain third, one point behind leaders Gamba Osaka who lost on Saturday.

Rafael gave the visitors an early lead when he converted Kim Young-gwon's ball in the fifth minute and made it 2-0 following a Keigo Higashi pass 11 minutes into the second half.

Kashiwa pulled a goal back in the 63rd minute when Brazilian midfielder Leandro Domingues blasted home Koki Mizuno's cross from the right, and the home team were handed a golden opportunity to draw level when they were awarded a penalty five minutes later.

Leandro took the spot-kick but Omiya goalkeeper Takayuki Kitano dived to his left to make the save and preserve his side's lead, which they extended in the 77th minute when Aoki traded passes with Higashi, dribbled up the field and calmly slotted home from the edge of the box.

"I'm happy more with our win than my goals,'' said Rafael. "Winning three points from Kashiwa has brought us confidence but it's important for us to play like this in the remaining games.''

Kashiwa boss Nelsinho said: "We were too keen to score and forgot to defend in the first half. We improved our play in the second half but missed a penalty. If you don't work on defence, you end up with a result like we did today.''

Elsewhere, bottom side Avispa Fukuoka continued to fight their uphill battle against relegation with a 2-1 win over Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

Fukuoka midfielder Toshiya Sueyoshi broke the deadlock in the 40th minute and Sho Naruoka pounced on a clearance in the box to slot home the second in the 75th minute.

Hiroshima launched a late onslaught and went close with good attempts from Hisato Sato, Tadanari Lee and substitute David Mujiri.

Croatian midfielder Mihael Mikic hit the post with three minutes to go before defender Hiroki Mizumoto reduced the arrears in injury time.

The win was just Avispa's fourth of the season and they are still 14 points from safety with seven games to go.

"We played in a passive manner in the first half,'' said Hiroshima boss Mihailo Petrovic.

"We created so many chances in the second half but if you cannot score, you cannot beat your opponent.''

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