KOBE – Brazilian midfielder Douglas bagged his second double in as many games as Sanfrecce Hiroshima crushed Vissel Kobe 4-0 away on Wednesday night to maintain their perfect start to the second stage of the J. League.
Hisato Sato set up Douglas for the opener and then got on the scoresheet himself to move within two goals of matching the all-time J. League record of 157 held by former Japan international Masashi Nakayama.
Gakuto Notsuda gave the two-time league champions a 3-0 halftime lead from the penalty spot, and Douglas, hero in Hiroshima’s 2-0 win over Yokohama F. Marinos last weekend, rounded off the scoring early in the second half.
The result moved Hiroshima onto 15 points, five clear at the top of the second-stage standings. Ryota Isomura scored twice to lead Nagoya Grampus 3-0 past Montedio Yamagata and into second in the table, ahead of Kawasaki Frontale and Kashima Antlers on goal difference.
At Noevir Stadium, Kobe made a lively start and Jung Woo-young rattled the crossbar with an audacious long-range effort, but it was the visitors that drew first blood on the quarter hour.
Sato collected a pass and picked out Douglas, who took two touches before beating Kobe goalkeeper Kaito Yamamoto with a crisp finish.
Sato then doubled Hiroshima’s advantage in the 24th minute heading home after Sho Sasaki had headed a cross from Kazuhiko Chiba over to the far post.
Sato’s strike was his 10th of the campaign and took him into double digits for the 12th season in succession.
“This is sort of a record I want to have every season at the very least,” said Sato. “You have to keep making the effort. I want to keep scoring goals that lead to wins even as I get older.”
Asked about closing in on Nakayama’s record he said, “People are going to start paying attention as to when (matching the record) it will come. I will keep trying hard every day to respond to expectations,” said the former J. League Player of the Year.
Notsuda put Hiroshima in total control three minutes before the interval, dusting himself off and slotting home from the spot after he was adjudged to have been tripped by Yamamoto.
Hiroshima capitalized on some shambolic defending from Kobe to go 4-0 up three minutes into the second half, with Sato feeding Douglas once again to steer home his 11th goal of the season.
Douglas nearly completed his hat trick on the hour mark, but Yamamoto made a crucial block with his right foot to turn the ball away.
In other games, Yoshito Okubo was on target again to help Kawasaki Frontale win 3-1 at Matsumoto Yamaga and Gaku Shibasaki scored twice in Kashima Antlers ‘3-0 win at Sagan Tosu.
Last season’s treble winners Gamba Osaka were held 2-2 at Albirex Niigata, first stage winners Urawa Reds also had to settle for a share of the spoils with a 1-1 draw at home to Ventforet Kofu, while Ryochi Maeda hit a double as FC Tokyo won 3-1 at home to bottom club Vegalta Sendai.
Wataru Endo wrapped up a 3-0 win for Shonan Bellmare at home to Kashiwa Reysol and Genki Omae bagged a brace in struggling Shimizu S-Pulse’s 2-1 win at Yokohama F. Marinos.
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