Masakatsu Sawa scored a hat-trick as reigning J. League champions Kashiwa Reysol smashed Gamba Osaka 6-2.
Sawa got off to a brilliant start on Saturday, scoring twice in the first eight minutes and by the time the 29-year-old midfielder added his third in the 69th minute, Kashiwa had the match wrapped up.
After Sawa’s first two goals, Masata Kudo made it 3-0 for the visitors in the 21st minute.
But first-half goals to Yasuhito Endo and then Akihiro Sato just before the break meant Gamba went into half-time 3-2 behind.
Any chance of a comeback was extinguished in the 56th minute when Leandro Domingues scored Kashiwa’s fourth before Sawa’s hat-trick strike and an injury-time goal from Junya Tanaka wrapped up the four-goal win.
The top-two teams in the J. League, Vegalta Sendai and Sanfrecce Hiroshima, played out a 2-2 draw on Saturday.
Vegalta hit the front through Wilson in the 11th minute before goals either side of half-time to Hisato Sato and Kazuyuki Morisaki gave Hiroshima a 2-1 lead.
However, Wilson came to the home side’s rescue with a 79th-minute equaliser.
That result means Vegalta remain top of the table with Hiroshima two points behind.
Jubilo Iwata triumphed at home 3-1 over Tokyo with the visitors only managing a consolation goal in the 89th minute.
Shuto Yamamoto scored in the seventh minute to give Jubilo the lead at the break before Tomohiko Miyazaki and Byung-Kuk Cho sealed the home side’s victory in the second half.
Shuto Kohno scored Tokyo’s late goal.
An injury-time equaliser from Yoichiro Kakitani gave Cerezo Osaka a 1-1 draw with Urawa Red Diamonds, while the match between Yokohama F. Marinos and Nagoya Grampus finished with the same score and Vissel Kobe won 1-0 away to Kawasaki Frontale.
In other results, Sagan Tosu defeated Consadole Sapporo 1-0, Albirex Niigata drew 1-1 with Kashima Antlers and Omiya Ardija overcame Shimizu S-Pulse 1-0.