Holders Urawa Reds swept aside Oita Trinita 3-0 away on Saturday to record their first win in the group stage of the Nabisco Cup.
Japan Under-23 star Koji Yamase opened the scoring after 22 minutes and set up striker Yuichiro Nagai for the second in the 32nd to put the visitors firmly in control at Oita Stadium Big Eye.
Tomoyuki Sakai grabbed the third six minutes after the break as Urawa bounced back from two straight defeats in Group C and moved within three points of Ichihara JEF United, which was beaten 3-2 at Shimizu S-Pulse. Ichihara tops the group ahead of Shimizu on goal difference.
In Group A, a double from Naoto Sakurai helped Tokyo Verdy beat Sanfrecce Hiroshima 3-0 and stay top on seven points. Second-place Yokohama F. Marinos also have seven points after a 1-0 win away to Cerezo Osaka, Yukihiko Sato grabbing the winner on 61 minutes. Cerezo and Hiroshima have one point each from three games.
J. League leader Jubilo Iwata was left looking for its first win after going down 1-0 at home to Gamba Osaka in Group B, while Nagoya Grampus Eight suffered its first defeat after a 2-1 reverse at home to Albirex Niigata, Brazilian Edmilson scoring the winner for the visitors from the penalty spot.
Despite the loss Nagoya stayed top on six points, one clear of Niigata.
In Group D, Takuya Nozawa scored twice as leaders Kashima Antlers won 3-0 away at Vissel Kobe with FC Tokyo running out a 2-0 winner at struggling Kashiwa Reysol.
The group stage features 16 first-division teams playing home and away matches in four groups with the top two teams from each group advancing to the knockout stage. The fourth round of matches will be played on June 5.
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