Kashima Antlers blanked FC Tokyo 2-0 to take pole position in the J. League first division on Saturday after the Yokohama F Marinos were handed their first defeat of the season after going down 3-1 at JEF United Ichihara.
Brazilian midfielder Fernando put Kashima on the road to victory after six minutes and compatriot Euller finished the job in the dying stages as Kashima took over at the top from Yokohama, which was sunk by a hat-trick from South Korea striker Choi Yong Soo.
Choi took just over a minute to fire home the opener in Chiba Prefecture after Yokohama failed to clear their lines and it was more Keystone Cops defending that gifted Choi with his second just before the half hour.
Midfielder Yuto Sato capitalized on a dreadful mix up between Naoki Matsuda and Yokohama goalkeeper Testuya Enomoto, squaring the ball for a gleeful Choi to slot home from close range.
Japan midfielder Daisuke Oku replied from the penalty spot on 39 minutes but any hopes of a comeback for Yokohama were dashed when Choi stooped to head home Masataka Sakamoto’s cross and complete his treble 16 minutes from time.
Title favorite Kashima moved on to 12 points from five games, two clear of Ichihara in second with Marinos in third also on 10 points but ahead of Vegalta Sendai and Jubilo Iwata on goal difference.
Sendai’s unbeaten start to the first stage also came to an end after going down 2-0 at home to Gamba Osaka, whose neighbors Cerezo Osaka pulled off a remarkable comeback to beat lowly Urawa Reds 6-4 at home.
Sendai, level on points with Yokohama at the top prior to their afternoon kickoff, lost its share of the lead as lanky Brazilian striker Magrao struck his third in two games on 43 minutes and turned provider for Masashi Oguro to secure all three points for Gamba.
Japan under-22 striker Yoshito Okubo and Takaaki Tokushige both struck twice as Cerezo came from 3-0 down after 12 minutes to emerge victorious in a 10-goal thriller at Nagai Stadium.
World Cup striker Akinori Nishizawa sparked the comeback with a towering header on 15 minutes before Tokushige grabbed his first with a well-taken finish to reduce the deficit and Okubo equalized 11 minutes before the break.
Tokushige grabbed his second with a wonderful volley from Okubo’s cross from the right on 48 minutes and goals from pint-sized midfielder Hiroaki Morishima and Okubo sealed an emphatic win for the home side.
Elsewhere, Iwata continued its ascent up the table after chalking up a third consecutive win without conceding as the defending champions overcame Vissel Kobe 1-0 at home courtesy of a 67th-minute penalty from Rodrigo Gral.
South Korean World Cup star Ahn Jung Hwan and Japan midfielder Alessandro Santos both found the target late on as Shimizu S-Pulse recorded their first win of the season by crushing Kyoto Purple Sanga 3-0 away.
Oita Trinita won 2-0 away at Tokyo Verdy while Nagoya Grampus Eight and Kashiwa Reysol played out a 1-1 draw at Mizuho Stadium.
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