Yokohama F Marinos surged closer to the J-League top-flight championship Saturday, sinking Nagoya Grampus 4-0 and opening an eight-point gap over title rivals Kawasaki Frontale, who lost 4-3 away to Consadole Sapporo after being reduced to 10 men.
Kota Mizunuma led the way with a brace for the visiting Marinos, scoring in the 16th and 46th minutes at Toyota Stadium. Sitting on 62 points with four rounds remaining, Kevin Muscat's side are on the cusp of the club's first J1 crown since 2019, when another Australian manager, now-Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou, steered them to the title.
"With not many games left, all (games are) important, but for me what is more important is the performance," said Muscat, whose side dominated possession and used the breadth of the pitch to create a host of chances on the break.
"We spoke about coming here and playing our football, and being determined to show our football, and I know that if we bring that, we have a chance to win many games."
Mizunuma gave Marinos the lead when he tapped in off a cross from Katsuya Nagato, whose one-two pass with Anderson Lopes had opened up the area.
Lopes led the break on the visitors' second, with Takuya Kida playing the incisive ball to set up Mizunuma in the middle of the box.
Substitute Leo Ceara made it 3-0 in the 90th minute when he stepped past Nagoya keeper Mitch Langerak after a long ball from Eduardo deep inside the visitors' half found Teruhito Nakagawa.
Marinos quickly went end-to-end to score again in injury time, with Joel Chima Fujita providing the finishing touch from just inside the box.
Two-time defending champions Kawasaki looked on track for a comeback victory when Yu Kobayashi put them up 3-2 in the 69th minute at Atsubetsu Stadium, but Consadole answered through Gabriel Xavier's header in the 83rd minute.
Disaster struck for Toru Oniki's men a minute later when Kento Tachibanada was marched for a bad challenge at the edge of the box, and Tsuyoshi Ogashiwa snatched the win for the hosts in the 12th minute of injury time.
In other J1 action, Sanfrecce Hiroshima remained third after overpowering visiting Urawa Reds 4-1, while Vissel Kobe climbed further away from the relegation zone into 12th with a 1-0 win away to Avispa Fukuoka, who dropped into the bottom three.
Fourth-place Cerezo Osaka were held 1-1 at home by Shonan Bellmare, FC Tokyo won 1-0 at Kashima Antlers and visiting Kyoto Sanga defeated Sagan Tosu 1-0.
Gamba Osaka remained second-last following a scoreless draw at home to Kashiwa Reysol.