SUITA, Osaka Pref. – Brazilian Bare and strike partner Ryuji Bando both scored twice as Gamba Osaka got its faltering title bid back on track in emphatic fashion with a 5-1 demolition of Kashima Antlers on Wednesday night.
Gamba’s first win in four matches kept it in touch with reigning champions Urawa Reds, who preserved their four-point cushion at the top of the table with a 2-1 win away to Vissel Kobe.
With 11 games of the season remaining, Urawa leads the standings with 52 points, with Gamba following on 48 and Kashima another six points back in third spot.
Bare set Gamba on its way after 12 minutes at Expo Stadium when he took advantage of slack marking to head home Takahiro Futagawa’s left-wing cross.
At the other end Masashi Motoyama forced Gamba ‘keeper Yosuke Fujigaya into an awkward save but Yasuhito Endo double the home side’s lead moments later when he rifled in off the cross bar from just inside the box.
Gamba continued to pin the Antlers back and the Bare grabbed his second 10 minutes from the interval when he collected a Sidiclei pass and danced past Daiki Iwamasa to smash home his 12th of the season from a tight angle.
Bare looked set to complete his hat trick when he chipped Kashima ‘keeper Hitoshi Sogahata after another surging run but Bando claimed the credit by helping the Brazilian’s goal-bound shot over the line three minutes into the second period.
Defender Fabao pulled one back for Kashima only for Bando to respond with his second of the game on 74 minutes, the Japan forward completing the rout from close range after Sogahata failed to gather a low drive from Michihiro Yasuda.
Tatsuya Tanaka scored both Urawa goals at Kobe Universiade Stadium to keep the Reds on course for back-to-back titles, while Shimizu S-Pulse stayed in fourth place after Cho Jae Jin’s clincher lifted it to a 1-0 win at home to relegation-haunted Yokohama FC.
Elsewhere, JEF United Chiba was the day’s biggest winner as goals poured in across the country, midfield maestro Koki Mizuno scoring two of four goals in the last six minutes of a 6-0 thrashing of Oita Trinita.
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