Brazilian striker Emerson grabbed a hat trick as Urawa Reds swept aside lowly Albirex Niigata 3-0 away in the J. League on Sunday.
Emerson opened the scoring after five minutes at Niigata Stadium Big Swan when he drove home a cross from Makoto Hasebe before pouncing on a loose ball to double the visitors’ lead in the 12th minute.
The 2003 J. League Player of the Year completed his treble nine minutes from time to move Urawa into second place with Niigata slumping to the foot of the table.
Urawa improved to 17 points but is seven behind leader Jubilo Iwata, which ran out a 2-0 winner at Gamba Osaka.
Elsewhere, defending champion Yokohama F. Marinos, who have a game in hand on Iwata, needed two late goals from South Korea striker Ahn Jung Hwan and Yukihiko Sato to see off Tokyo Verdy 3-1.
Yokohama stretched its unbeaten run to six matches and joined Urawa on 17 points.
Japan midfielder Mitsuo Ogasawara completed a double from the penalty spot as Kashima Antlers swept aside Oita Trinita 3-0 at home, while fading JEF United Ichihara was held 1-1 at home to Nagoya Grampus Eight.
Ichihara is fourth on 15 points, followed by Kashima (14) and FC Tokyo (14), which won 2-1 at home to struggling Kashiwa Reysol.
At the other end of the table Sanfrecce Hiroshima recorded back-to-back wins after beating Vissel Kobe 2-0, while Cerezo Osaka moved off the bottom of the table after a 2-1 win at Shimizu S-Pulse.
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