Brazilian-born Japan international Marcus Tulio Tanaka scored a hat-trick on Thursday, giving Urawa Red Diamonds a 3-2 win over Tokyo Verdy to regain the lead in the J-League standings.
Tulio nodded home in the 23rd minute on a pass from fellow Japan international Yuki Abe to cancel Brazilian Hulk's goal and then duly netted on a penalty in the 36th minute to get ahead 2-1.
Verdy once levelled the score thanks to a goal by another Brazilian Diego in the 43rd minute, but again Abe set up for Tulio's third goal, an eight-metre header, in the 58th minute. The Asian club champions have now 10 wins, two draws and five defeats for 32 points, ahead of defending champions Kashima Antlers, who went down to Kyoto Purple Sanga 2-1 on Wednesday.
They were followed by Kashiwa Reysol, Nagoya Grampus and Gamba Osaka on 29 points, Kawasaki Frontale and Albirex Niigata on 26 points. Nagoya failed to tie with Urawa as they were beaten by Jubilo Iwata 2-1 with Takayuki Chano and Sho Naruoka scoring in the 47th and 49th minutes.
Brazilian forward Franca's goal in the 78th minute enabled Kashiwa to beat Omiya Ardija 1-0, while Olympic team's midfielder Hiroyuki Taniguchi scored twice to give Kawasaki a 2-1 win over Shimizu S-Pulse.
On Wednesday, Osaka were held to a 1-1 draw by FC Tokyo.