Koya Yuruki netted a second-half brace as Vissel Kobe claimed a 3-0 win over Kyoto Sanga on Saturday to remain top of the J-League first division.
Kobe needed time to unlock a Kyoto side who had won three straight, conceding just once in the process, but Yuruki's two well-taken goals settled the leaders' nerves at Sanga Stadium.
"I'm glad I could help my team get a win," said Yuruki, after bagging his first goals this term. "Each game feels like a final, and it's huge to get a win away from home."
Dominant Vissel had a big opportunity in the 11th minute when Haruya Ide struck a loose ball inside the box, only to see his effort come off the left-hand post.
Kyoto also had a chance to go ahead in the 32nd minute from a corner, but unmarked forward Kosuke Kinoshita's goal-bound effort was blocked, leaving the score level at the break.
Yuruki broke the deadlock 10 minutes into the second half after a free kick was half-cleared into his path. The midfielder struck it first time from just outside the area, finding the bottom right corner with a well-placed effort that curled away from Kyoto keeper Tomoya Wakahara.
Yuruki added his team's second in the 68th minute when Daiju Sasaki, who had come on just minutes earlier, sent in a low cross from the right wing. Yuruki held off his marker and superbly flicked the ball into the net with a back-heel.
Two former Japan international forwards combined for Kobe's third 10 minutes from time, with Yoshinori Muto showing good strength and technique to cut in from the right before setting up Yuya Osako for an easy finish.
Kobe, who welcomed back Andres Iniesta as an unused substitute, are top on 15 points following their fifth win from six games this season. Kyoto remain on nine points after their winning streak came to an end.
Nagoya Grampus moved up to second, two points behind Kobe, after coming from behind to defeat promoted Albirex Niigata 3-1 away from home. Niigata went a man down soon after taking the lead in the first half, enabling the visitors to turn the game around.
Avispa Fukuoka are on 11 points after being held to a 1-1 draw at promoted Yokohama FC. Sanfrecce Hiroshima are also on 11 points after a late Douglas Vieira brace gave them a 2-1 comeback win at Kashima Antlers.
Japan forward Shuto Machino scored four first-half goals as Shonan Bellmare hammered winless Gamba Osaka 4-1 at home, while Sagan Tosu grabbed a late 1-0 home win over FC Tokyo.
Kawasaki Frontale came back to beat Consadole Sapporo 4-3 on Yusuke Segawa's late header at Sapporo Dome.
Cerezo Osaka held off reigning champions Yokohama F Marinos 2-1 at home following a brace from Leo Ceara.