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Watanabe hat-trick lifts Tokyo

Kyodo

FC Tokyo striker Kazuma Watanabe came off the bench to score a hat-trick in a dozen second-half minutes as the Emperor’s Cup holders roared back to defeat Sagan Tosu 3-2 in the J. League on Sunday.

Watanabe, who had scored just one league goal this season, took the pitch in the 54th minute with Tokyo down 2-0 before pumping in a barrage of scrappy goals from the 75th under the gaze of Japan manager Alberto Zaccheroni.

Ranko Popovic’s side, on 21 points, rolled to its third straight victory, pulling within six points of leaders Vegalta Sendai with a game in hand.

“We were out of sync in the first half and I wanted to do something about it if and when I got in the game,” said Watanabe, Tokyo’s winter signing from Yokohama F. Marinos.