ICHIHARA, Chiba Pref. – Austria international Mario Haas scored a super double as JEF United Chiba came from behind to beat Oita Trinita 4-2 to register its first win of the season, while Kashima Antlers went top of the J. League after a 1-0 win at Sanfrecce Hiroshima on Saturday.
Kashima moved on to 10 points from four games thanks to Takuya Nozawa’s 71st-minute strike at Big Arch but promoted Omiya Ardija dropped out of the leading pack after going down to a late strike by Fabinho in a 3-2 defeat at Albirex Niigata.
FC Tokyo can rejoin Kashima at the top of the table with a win at home to Jubilo Iwata on Sunday when defending champion Yokohama F. Marinos welcome Vissel Kobe.
At Ichihara Stadium, former Strum Graz striker Haas opened his J. League account in the 12th and 40th minutes to wipe out Oita’s 2-0 lead before Athens Olympic midfielder Yuki Abe scored the first of two goals with a stunning free-kick shortly before the hour mark.
Abe put the icing on the cake by scoring his sixth goal in five consecutive matches from the penalty spot in the late stages to maintain Chiba’s unbeaten start to the season after drawing its first three games 2-2.
“For me it’s wonderful to finally score. The first three matches I made goals and last week I had chances (against Tokyo Verdy) but today I got lucky with the header and it was the second goal that was the big one for me,” Haas said.
Meanwhile, there was more woe for last season’s first-stage winners Urawa Reds, who slumped into last place in the expanded 18-team standings after being held to a 1-1 draw at home to Gamba Osaka.
Cerezo Osaka climbed off the foot of the table after former Japan international Hiroaki Morishima scored what proved to be the winner in the 1-0 defeat of visiting Nagoya Grampus Eight.
Elsewhere, Kashiwa Reysol also picked up its first win of the season after edging Shimizu S-Pulse 2-1 away courtesy of goals from Cleber and Harutaka Ono as did Kawasaki Frontale, which edged former neighbor Tokyo Verdy 1-0 in a bad-tempered affair that saw nine players booked.
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