Kashima Antlers responded spectacularly to their setback against Gamba Osaka last week, seeing off Sanfrecce Hiroshima 4-2 at Edion Stadium on Saturday.
The First Stage winners opened their Second Stage campaign with a 3-1 reverse to Gamba, though they bounced back from their false step in more than convincing fashion.
Picking their opportunities to strike, Yasushi Endo gave Mastada Ishii’s men the lead against the Japanese champions but few could have imagined the avalanche of goals later.
Mu Kanazaki, Shoma Doi and Atsutaka Nakamura all struck in the second half to put Antlers on course for a memorable win.
Though Arsenal-bound Takano Asano did his growing reputation no harm with a brace for Sanfrecce late on, it did little to stem the Antlers avalanche as the visitors continued in the same way they left off when the First Stage conclude.
Gamba kept on with their winning ways when they saw off Vegalta Sendai 3-1 with Patric’s brace, while Urawa Reds maintained that momentum with a 2-0 result over Kashiwa Reysol.
Kawasaki Frontale were amongst the most impressive of the performers on Saturday as they surged to a 3-0 win at Nagoya Grampus, who were reduced to 10 men when Lee Seung-hee was sent off.
Yokohama F.Marinos have raced to the joint-top of the new table after seeing off whipping boys Avisa Fukuoka.
FC Tokyo and Shonan Bellmare saw off Ventforet Kofu and Albirex Niigata 1-0 respectively, but Jubilo Iwata were unable to hold onto a lead given to them by Jay Bothroyd on his return for injury, eventually drawing 1-1.
The spoils were similarly shared when Vissel Kobe hosted Sagan Tosu, Kazuma Watanabe hitting an equaliser for the hosts to draw 2-2 to maintain their unbeaten start to the Second Stage.