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In-form Brazilian striker Emerson scored a first-half double to put Urawa Reds on the way to a 5-1 drubbing of Tokyo Verdy in the J. League on Saturday, keeping the newly-crowned Nabisco Cup winner on course for a domestic double.

News photoSho Naruoka (left) of Jubilo and Vegalta defender
Susumu Watanabe fight for the ball during
Saturday’s game at Iwata Stadium. Jubilo won 1-0.

Without a major trophy until its 4-0 win over Kashima Antlers in the Nabisco final on Monday, Urawa dominated from start to finish at Komaba Stadium, deservedly taking all three points to leapfrog Verdy at the top of the second-stage standings.

Victory moved the Reds on to 22 points with three matches of the second stage remaining, two clear of Verdy, Jubilo Iwata and Yokohama F. Marinos.

Defending champion Jubilo kept its title hopes alive as league-leading scorer Rodrigo Gral scored a last-gasp winner in a 1-0 victory over lowly Vegalta Sendai. Yokohama travels to Nagoya Grampus Eight on Sunday.

JEF United Ichihara, level on 19 points with Urawa at the start of the day, lost ground on the leader after a surprise 3-2 defeat away to relegation-haunted Kyoto Purple Sanga.

Urawa started with all cylinders blazing and took the lead when Monday’s two-goal hero Emerson slotted home at the far post after 10 minutes.

Two minutes later the jet-heeled Emerson extended the home side’s lead with a carbon copy of his first goal against Kashima.

Verdy improved after the interval and pulled one back when Kentaro Hayashi danced past two defenders to score from a tight angle on 64 minutes but Japan Under-22 midfielder Koji Yamase restored Urawa’s lead with a superb volley in the 71st.

Tatsuya Tanaka made it four in the 80th before Tadaaki Hirakawa completed the rout two minutes from time.

Elsewhere, Kashima was held 2-2 at home to Gamba Osaka, Cerezo Osaka beat Oita Trinita 2-0 while Shimizu S-Pulse won 3-2 at Kashiwa Reysol.

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