• Kyodo

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Yu Kobayashi scored twice as Kawasaki Frontale thrashed Urawa Reds 4-1 in the J. League on Wednesday night, landing a sizeable psychological blow ahead of their meeting in the Asian Champions League quarterfinals.

Hiroyuki Abe set up Kobayashi for the first-half opener and then got on the scoresheet himself before Tomoaki Makino replied for Reds in the 73rd minute.

But Kobayashi scored his second from the penalty spot after Wataru Endo was sent off and substitute Tatsuya Hasegawa wrapped up the scoring on a humid night at Todoroki Stadium.

Kawasaki, which hosts Urawa on Aug. 23 in the first leg of their ACL meeting, moved up to fifth on the table at the halfway stage of the season on 32 points, while reigning champions Kashima Antlers (36) went top, with Yasushi Endo securing a 1-0 win at Gamba Osaka.

“Today we were at home and focused on getting a win going into the second half of the season,” said Kawasaki manager Toru Oniki.

“We scored from good situations in the first half and getting the third was the key. We conceded before we were able to do that but came back and showed how tough we are.

“(Kobayashi) did what he is good at for his first goal and he was probably most nervous when he was taking the penalty, but carried out his responsibility well.”

With confidence sky high after a 5-0 thrashing of Vissel Kobe on Saturday in which Abe and Kobayashi both scored twice, Kawasaki drew first blood on 16 minutes, Kobayashi getting a superb first touch on Abe’s pass to turn inside Endo and steer home.

“I thought he (Abe) would give me a great ball and I am glad I could put it away,” said Kobayashi, whose double took his tally for the season to eight goals.

Rafael Silva forced Kawasaki keeper Jung Sung-ryong into action with a low drive as Reds looked to hit back in the 24th minute.

But Frontale doubled their lead as Kengo Nakamura’s pass found Abe, who capitalized on slack marking by Endo and Makino to slide in his eighth of the campaign.

Jung was quick to respond again at the other end to thwart Shinzo Koroki, but Eduardo Neto and Kobayashi missed excellent chances to further extend Frontale’s lead midway through the second half.

Makino pulled one back for Reds when he headed a corner from Yosuke Kashiwagi in off the crossbar.

But Kobayashi drilled home from the spot after Endo was red-carded for a foul on the Frontale captain, and Hasegawa swept in the fourth from the edge of the area to seal the win in the 84th minute.

Wednesday’s games were rescheduled due to all four teams’ involvement in the ACL. Gamba and Kashima have both since been knocked out of the continental competition.

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