Yokohama F·Marinos transferred their leading goalscorer, Ado Onaiwu, during the Tokyo 2020 break and promptly had their winning streak snapped last week. The question then: Was it a sign of things to come for the second-place team in the MEIJI YASUDA J1 LEAGUE?
The answer provided this weekend by Daizen Maeda: Not quite. The Japanese superstar put on a show, recording a hat trick in a 5-1 win over Oita Trinita.
Maeda got the home side off to a quick start, making a clever run to lose his marker before finishing easily in front for the opening goal. Then, he played provider. At 1-1, Maeda won a header to start a move that ended in a Léo Ceará finish; at 2-1, he notched an assist by squaring a ball for the Brazilian striker to side-foot into the net.
Maeda was absolutely annihilating the Trinita defense, but he wasn’t done. He scored on an audacious 20-yard chip that had his own bench giving him a standing ovation in awe. After that, he nodded home a cross to make it a hat trick. That header capped off one of the most exceptional individual performances by any player in Japan all season.
At the final whistle, the list of contributions painted a picture of Maeda's dominance: Three goals, an assist and starting the move for the other goal. Maeda did it all, and he now joins Leandro Damião as the league’s top-scoring current player, with 13 goals on the campaign.
If there were any questions about how Marinos would cope without Onaiwu, Maeda answered them all by himself. With him in this form, it's safe to say the Tricolor faithful may yet get to dream of a fight for the title against Kawasaki Frontale.