• Kyodo


Shinzo Koroki’s first-half hat trick set the tone for Urawa’s 7-0 demolition job of Vegalta Sendai as Reds vaulted to the top of the J. League on Friday.

Koroki was joined on the scoresheet by Yuki Muto, Tadanari Lee and Yosuke Kashiwagi. Sendai didn’t help itself with an own goal midway through the second half at Saitama Stadium.

Reds improved to 13 points from six games, moving one clear of Vissel Kobe and Kashima Antlers, who face Omiya Ardija away and are at home to Cerezo Osaka, respectively.

“I’m not going to lie, this feels great,” Koroki said. “In our last game, we conceded because of my mistake so this was a nice way to make up for it. It’s incredible to be able to win 7-0.”

Urawa had the game killed off after one half, which was enough for Koroki to bag his first hat trick of the season.

The Rio Olympian struck his first of the evening in the 20th minute, when Takahiro Sekine crossed from the right wing for the far post to set up his header.

Koroki and Sekine linked again seven minutes later, Koroki pouncing on a low cross from close range to put the hosts up by two.

Muto got in on the action in the 29th minute with his third league goal of the campaign, a screamer from 20 meters out that Sendai goalkeeper Kentaro Seki had no chance of stopping.

In the second minute of first-half stoppage time, Urawa put the game out of reach for a team that has managed to score only three goals in its first five games as Koroki made it 4-0 from the spot.

The goals continued to flow for Mihailo Petrovic’s men after halftime as Lee cut through the box to put away a ball over the top from Muto.

Vegalta simply couldn’t catch a break on this night. Five minutes past the hour, the visitors gifted an own goal from a Kashiwagi free kick, going down by a humiliating six.

Kashiwagi later closed the scoring after 92 minutes.

In J1’s one other match Friday, Gamba Osaka suffered its first defeat of the year 1-0 at the hands of Sanfrecce Hiroshima, who produced their first win of 2017.

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