Shinzo Kuroki bundled in from point-blank range after 20 minutes in humid conditions in Saitama, only for Gaku Shibasaki to silence the crowd of 40,000 with a fierce drive on the half-hour mark.

Urawa, Japan's best-supported club and J-League champions in 2006, have 36 points from 17 games.

However, the 2007 Asian champions were pegged back by this season's surprise package Sagan Tosu, who produced a battling 1-0 win at Cerezo Osaka thanks to a sharp finish from striker Yohei Toyoda after 68 minutes,

Kawasaki Frontale notched their fourth successive victory by the same scoreline at home to Albirex Niigata to move to 33 points.

There is now daylight between the top three and seven-times champions Kashima in fourth on 27 points.

New Japan coach Javier Aguirre will not enjoy watching videotapes of horror defending across the board in Sunday's J-League games, with teams from top to bottom guilty of embarrassing mistakes.

Striker Takashi Usami, who spent a brief spell at Bayern Munich from 2011 to 2012, gave his hopes of a Japan recall a boost with two goals in Gamba Osaka's 5-1 thrashing of Vissel Kobe, arguably the worst offenders.

Brazilian Patric also headed two goals against a flimsy home defence which left Vissel in sixth on 25 points, two behind Sanfreece Hiroshima, who were held 1-1 by visiting Ventforet Kofu.

Last season's J-League player of the year Shunsuke Nakamura scored with a rare right-foot strike for 10th-placed Yokohama F-Marinos, only for Kensuke Nagai to snatch a late equaliser for Nagoya Grampus in a 1-1 draw.