Yoshito Okubo has gone clear at the top of the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League scoring charts following his hat-trick in Kawasaki Frontale’s 6-1 win over Nagoya Grampus on Saturday.
2014’s top scorer moved ahead of Takashi Usami, who is due to play for Gamba Osaka on Sunday, in this season’s standings on 19 goals - already one more than he managed last term.
Okubo got his first on the night, blasting into the net from outside the box, after Yu Kobayashi and Yusuke Tasaka got Frontale off to a fine start.
Elsinho then netted after the break in a dominant showing from the hosts before Okubo bagged his second and third from inside the box, as Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic looked on.
Another performance that would have delighted the Samurai Blue boss was that of Yuki Muto, with the Urawa Reds forward a threat throughout against Shimizu S-Pulse as his team won 4-1.
Despite enduring several scares from the home side - Jong Tae-se canceling out Ryota Moriwaki’s opening header - the first stage winners’ second-half showing ensured they emerged deserved winners at IAI Stadium.
Shinzo Koroki put Mihailo Petrovic’s men back on the front foot after the restart, before Muto produced a tidy finish for the third and then rolled across for Yosuke Kashiwagi to finish as the Reds’ moved up to third in the table in convincing fashion.
At the summit, Kashima Antlers won 1-0 at Ventforet Kofu thanks to Mu Kanazaki’s header and moved joint-top of the table after surrendering the advantage to Sanfrecce Hiroshima last week; the latter could only draw 0-0 with Sagan Tosu this weekend.
Yokohama F.Marinos leapfrogged FC Tokyo in the standings after Cayman Togashi finished off Shunsuke Nakamura’s pinpoint cross in the 88th minute, while Vegalta Sendai remain hovering outside the bottom three after being held to a 1-1 stalemate by Shonan Bellmare.
Later, Yamazaki Nabisco Cup semi-finalists Vissel Kobe continued their losing run in September by allowing Albirex Niigata to sneak off with a 2-1 victory after Kosuke Yamamoto snatched victory for the guests in the 85th minute.
In Sunday’s remaining matchday 11 action, AFC Champions League semi-finalists Gamba Osaka travel to face Matsumoto Yamaga, while Kashiwa Reysol host Montedio Yamagata.