Last year’s MEIJI YASUDA J2 League winners Shonan Bellmare nabbed a 2-2 draw at Sanfrecce Hiroshima to put themselves in charge of Group A of the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup.
The promoted outfit were seconds away from celebrating a victory in Hiroshima, as Bruno Cesar and Shota Kobayashi scored in the first half to put them.
But Takuma Asano had already grabbed the temporary equaliser for Sanfrecce and he would pull them level again in the 93rd minute to break Bellmare hearts.
Nevertheless, Cho Kwi-Jea’s plucky side are still holding on to top spot, sitting a point ahead of Matsumoto Yamaga in the table after the latter’s 3-1 win at Ventforet Kofu.
Yamaga blitzed their hosts in the second period through Naoki Maeda and a brace from Tatsuya Sakai for their first win, despite falling a goal down early from Takuma Abe.
Albirex Niigata kept apace with the top of the group when they defeated Sagan Tosu 1-0 through Ryohei Yamazaki’s effort.
In Group B, Nagoya Grampus were unable to maintain their perfect record as Montedio Yamagata held them to a thrilling 3-3 draw.
The leaders took the lead three times via strikes from Akira Takeuchi, Asahi Yada and Milivoje Novakovic.
But Yamagata substitute Hiroki Bandai’s final leveller from a 92nd-minute header left Akira Nishino’s men rueing their missed opportunity to extend their lead.
The result allowed Kawasaki Frontale to keep sight of the top when they won 2-0 at Shimizu S-Pulse, thanks to Kentaro Moriya and Elsinho’s goals in the second half.
In the final game of round 3, Vissel Kobe consolidated Group B’s second spot after a goalless stalemate with Vegalta Sendai at Yurtec Stadium.