J.League wrap: Tanaka shines for Grampus
A rampant Nagoya Grampus trounced Vissel Kobe, while Sanfrecce Hiroshima tasted defeat for the first time in eight matches.
Grampus suffered a shock 2-1 loss at bottom-placed Consadole Sapporo in the previous round but four goals from defender Marcus Tanaka guided the hosts to a 5-1 victory on Saturday and fifth place on the table with 32 points.
The former Japanese international opened the scoring after two minutes and Yoshizumi Ogawa doubled their advantage after 26 minutes.
Tanaka popped up again six minutes before the half-time break to make it 3-0 and he completed his hat-trick tp make it 4-0 five minutes after the interval.
Grampus rounded off the dominant display with a fifth goal on 88 minutes through Tanaka before Keijiro Ogawa netted a consolation for the hapless visitors.
And at the Hiroshima Big Arch, Sanfrecce Hiroshima missed the chance to consolidate top spot, falling to Shimizu S-Pulse 2-1.
Hisato Sato put Sanfrecce ahead after three minutes, his 16th goal of the campaign, but two goals in the final 10 minutes from Shimizu handed the home side their first defeat in eight league matches.
Gamba Osaka, meanwhile, gave their survival chances a boost with an important 3-1 win against fellow strugglers Omiya Ardija.
A brace in the space of a minute from Leandro gave the 2008 AFC Champions League victors, languishing in 17th place, a priceless three points to move them within four points of safety.
Elsewhere, Vegalta Sendai salvaged a 2-2 draw against Yokohama. F Marinos. It was their third successive draw and it was enough to claim top position with 38 points.
Third-placed Urawa Red Diamonds extended their unbeaten run to 11 matches with a 2-2 draw at home to FC Tokyo, Sagan Tosu accounted for Kashima Antlers 2-0 and Cerezo Osaka hammered the visiting Consadole Sapporo 4-0.
Albirex Niigata drew 1-1 with Kashiwa Reysol and Kawasaki Frontale held Jubilo Iwata 2-2.