HIRATSUKA, Kanagawa Pref. – Frode Johnsen grabbed a hat trick as Shimizu S-Pulse warmed up for their top-of-the-table showdown with champions Kashima Antlers with an emphatic 6-3 win away to struggling Shonan Bellmare in the J. League on Sunday.
Shimizu ran riot at Hiratsuka Stadium and the points were all but in the bag after 26 minutes due to goals from Johnsen (two), Akihiro Hyodo and World Cup striker Shinji Okazaki.
Johnsen completed his hat trick after Shonan had briefly threatened a comeback through goals late in the first half from Emerson and Yuya Nakamura, before Jungo Fujimoto put the result beyond doubt. Emerson grabbed his second of the game four minutes from time.
“It was an exciting game with lots of goals and I think we deserved to win,” said Johnsen. “I scored three goals and the team won so it is a perfect day.”
Victory moved Shimizu within one point of Kashima (34), which breezed past Vissel Kobe 3-0 on Saturday, while Hiroyuki Taniguchi completed a remarkable turnaround with the winner as Kawasaki Frontale (28) came from two goals down to beat Vegalta Sendai 3-2 and move fourth.
In other games, Hideo Hashimoto’s 32nd-minute effort earned Gamba Osaka a 1-0 win over Montedio Yamagata, while Hisato Sato scored twice in Sanfrecce Hiroshima’s 3-0 defeat of bottom club Kyoto Sanga.
Shimizu set its stalls out early and Okazaki should have opened the scoring after three minutes, scuffing his followup after Shinji Ono had hit the post.
But Johnsen made it 1-0 seconds later, blocking Taisuke Muramatsu’s attempted clearance before clipping past Ryota Tsuzuki, and Hyodo doubled the visitors lead with a superb drive from 25 meters on 10 minutes.
Shimizu’s orange army of fans at the other end of the pitch had barely finished celebrating that goal when Okazaki atoned for his earlier miss by scrambled home the third.
With Shonan in complete disarray, Johnsen made it four with a well-taken finish on 26 minutes.
Emerson pulled one back and Nakamura rolled home from two minutes from the interval but Johnsen made it 5-2 on 51 minutes before a sumptuous chip from Fujimoto put Shimizu out of sight.