Genki Omae struck twice as Shimizu S-Pulse beat Kashima Antlers 3-1 on Sunday, heaping yet more misery on the struggling J.League giants.
Toninho Cerezo’s men were aiming to put the dampening defeats suffered in the AFC Champions League, as well as last year’s third place league finish, behind them with a result at IAI Stadium.
But the visitors’ third loss in as many games only followed, as Omae’s brace – a goal in each half – plus former Antler Takuya Honda’s strike ensured S-Pulse earned three valuable points in their survival bid this season, with Australia international Mitchell Duke making his J.League debut.
Substitute Yasushi Endo did net Kashima Antlers a temporary equaliser in the 69th minute while the club will rue Takahide Umebachi’s ambitious attempt that came back off the woodwork, but the task ultimately proved too big for a team missing key players in Gen Shoji and Davi.
The collapse puts an early dent on the seven-time league champions’ title hopes and piles more pressure on the injury-depleted side ahead of next Saturday’s game against Shonan Bellmare.