East Asia Domestic Wrap: Title races continues to excite in Japan, Korea Republic
Kuala Lumpur: The top two sides played out draws in Japan over the weekend, while the pacesetters in Korea Republic remain neck and neck as both seasons move towards a thrilling climax.
There was no league action in China PR, but plenty more talking points in Mongolia, Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei, so join the-AFC.com as we review the latest rounds of fixtures in East Asia.
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FC Tokyo missed the chance to extend their lead at the J.League summit on Sunday as the capital city side could only manage a scoreless draw against second-from-bottom Matsumoto Yamaga. A day earlier, second-placed Kashima Antlers had played out a 1-1 draw with Consodole Sapporo, with Serginho's second-half equaliser securing a point.
Just a point separates the top two, but Yokohama F. Marinos also missed their own chance to close in on the leaders, drawing 1-1 against Vegalta Sendai to remain three points adrift of Kashima. Cerezo Osaka, meanwhile, moved into the top four after seeing off Gamba Osaka 3-1 on Saturday.
Kawasaki Frontale’s chances of retaining their title took another hit as they suffered a 2-1 home loss to Vissel Kobe and dropped to fifth, while bottom team Jubilo Iwata gave themselves a glimmer of hope of survival by claiming a 2-1 away victory at Oita Trinata.
The race at the top of Korea Republic’s K League could not be any closer with Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Ulsan Hyundai locked on 66 points apiece after the former defeated Suwon Samsung Bluewings 2-0 and the latter overcame Seongnam FC 1-0 at the weekend.
Jeonbuk, who are top by virtue of goals scored, saw their three-point lead slashed to the narrowest of margins just a few days earlier after losing 2-0 at home against Daegu FC, while Ulsan defeated Suwon by the same scoreline to move level with the defending champions.
Third-placed FC Seoul drew 1-1 against second-from-bottom Gyeongnam FC last Wednesday, meanwhile, before losing 2-1 to Sangju Sangmu at the weekend to mean they are 15 points off the pace.
Erchim FC moved back to the top of the Mongolian Premier League after a resounding 7-2 victory over Khoromkhon, while Ulaanbaatar City's 1-1 draw against third-placed Athletic 220 saw them fall two points behind the defending champions, who are aiming for their fifth successive title.
With all 10 sides having played each other twice, the league will now split into two for the final eight fixtures as the season draws towards an exciting close in which Erchim and Ulaanbaatar City look set to battle it out to be crowned league champions.
While Erchim are in the driving seat, with the top five to face each other once, Ulaanbaatar City know they too have a strong chance of lifting the Mongolian Premier League title for the first time.
Eastern SC remain top of the Hong Kong Premier League despite conceding late to lose their 100 percent record in an entertaining 3-3 draw against defending champions Wofoo Tai Po, who sit second from bottom after two draws and one defeat.
Southern District FC missed the chance to draw level on points with Eastern after they could only manage a 1-1 draw against Yuen Long, while third-placed Kitchee SC have a game in hand on the top two after sitting out of the action last weekend.
The only other fixture in Hong Kong saw BC Rangers pick up their first points of the campaign following a 2-1 victory away at Hong Kong Pegasus, who currently prop up the standings having picked up just a point from their opening three games.
Tatung FC held onto their three-point lead in Chinese Taipei after defeating Taiwan University 3-0, but second-placed Taipower stayed within striking distance following their victory by the same scoreline over Taichung Futuro.
Third-placed Hang Yuan FC were the biggest winners of the weekend, seeing off Ming Chuan University 7-0 but they are well off the pace, while Tainan City beat FC Taicheng 2-1 in the weekend’s other game.
The league will now take a month-long break before resuming in early November, when the race for the title will enter its final weeks.
Photos: Erchim FC, Kashima Antlers
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