Urawa Reds laid down yet another marker in the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League title race when they roared to a 4-1 win over challengers FC Tokyo on Sec 12.
Saturday’s top-of-the-table tie was meant to provide a stern test for the hosts’ aspirations, but they still breezed to comfortable victory that takes them four points clear at the top.
A fifth minute opener from Tadanari Lee gave an indication of the dominant showing that was to come from Mihailo Petrovic’s side throughout, with Takahiro Sekine doubling the lead with a sweet volley on the verge of half time.
Yuki Muto then ensured the Reds started the second half in exactly the same manner as the first when he headed the leaders 3-0 in front, before Tsukasa Umesaki grabbed the final strike two minutes after Ryoichi Maeda had netted Tokyo’s consolation.
The landslide win tasted doubly sweet for the unbeaten Reds given their other closest rivals similarly slipped up at the weekend, with Gamba Osaka particularly left to rue their 1-1 draw against Kawasaki Frontale.
Coca Cola J.League Player of the Month winner and league top scorer Takashi Usami took his tally for the season to 10 when he struck Gamba’s goal in the 43rd minute.
But a mistake from Masaaki Higashiguchi allowed Kenyu Sugimoto to score a glancing header from a cross, leaving the defending champions to rue two dropped points.
Sanfrecce Hiroshima on the other hand will be glad to have secured a 2-2 result at Kashima Antlers despite managing to take the lead through Hisato Sato in an open tie.
Antlers roared back in a devastating three minute spell when Mitsuo Ogasawara equalised before Dinei put his team ahead for the first time on the day.
But Kosei Shibasaki’s instant reply a minute after the Brazilian, who arrived at the start of May, had scored salvaged a valuable point for Sanfrecce, who pull level on 23 points with Gamba and Tokyo.
The impressive Yokohama F.Marinos keep rising too, winning 2-1 at Shimizu S-Pulse courtesy of Jungo Fujimoto’s skill saw him net the winner that moves them up to fifth in the table.
Sagan Tosu are hot on F.Marinos’ heels, having themselves broken Nagoya Grampus when Yohei Toyoda struck the game’s solitary goal in the 94th minute.
Vegalta Sendai enjoyed a far more comprehensive result, winning 3-0 at Albirex Niigata thanks to Hiroaki Okuno’s brace - the winger’s blockbuster second a particular beauty - and Kim Min Tae’s strike for their first win in seven games.
Meanwhile, the bounce provided by Satoru Sakuma’s coaching appointment at Ventforet Kofu proved enough for the bottom dwellers to secure a crucial 2-0 win over fellow relegation candidates Montedio Yamagata.
Matsumoto Yamaga’s simultaneous defeat of Vissel Kobe 2-0 had allowed Yasuharu Sorimachi’s men to put some distance between themselves and the drop zone.