Forward Yuya Asano struck a fine 35th-minute winner as Sanfrecce Hiroshima ended Nagoya Grampus' eight-game unbeaten run with a 1-0 home win on Sunday in the J-League first division.
Center-back Hayato Araki won the ball back twice inside the center circle before passing to Asano, who was running out of angle as he dribbled to his left but squeezed a low effort into the far corner beyond diving keeper Mitch Langerak and off the post at Edion Stadium.
Nagoya midfielder Ryoya Morishita had the game's first chance as he capitalized on a defensive mix-up in the 15th minute, but missed his close-range effort.
Morishita set up Jakub Swierczok in the 23rd minute after darting into the box but the Pole failed to make proper contact as another chance went begging before Hiroshima grabbed the winner with a sucker punch.
Tsukasa Morishima headed over for the home side before the break and Shunki Higashi's shot hit the side-netting three minutes into the second half for Hiroshima, who had to stave off threats provided by Grampus substitute Naoki Maeda.
The visitors replaced four players within the first seven minutes of the second half and the left-footed winger was the most menacing, continuing to cut in from the right to unsettle the home defense.
Sanfrecce held on for the three points, leaving Grampus level on points with third-placed Vissel Kobe. Grampus have played a game more as the two teams chase automatic qualification for next year's Asian Champions League with a top-three spot.
Elsewhere, Yuki Kakita hit a brace as Tokushima Vortis eased past Sagan Tosu 3-0 at home to move out of the relegation zone.
Fellow strugglers Oita Trinita also had a big win, Yamato Machida hitting the winner in a 1-0 home victory over Cerezo Osaka to move up to 18th.