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Soccer: Naoki Maeda scores 4 goals as Grampus hammer Reds

Naoki Maeda, right, bags four goals to lead Nagoya Grampus in a 6-2 demolition of the Urawa Reds in the J-League first division on Aug. 8, 2020. (Kyodo)

NAGOYA (Kyodo) -- Naoki Maeda bagged four goals, including a hat-trick within the first 38 minutes, to lead Nagoya Grampus to a 6-2 demolition of Urawa Reds in the J-League first division on Saturday.

    The home side took a 5-0 lead into the break at Toyota Stadium after the 25-year-old midfielder opened the floodgates with goals in the ninth and 10th minutes.

    Brazilians Joao Schmidt and Gabriel Xavier also found the net as Massimo Ficcadenti's side bounced back from their first loss of the coronavirus-interrupted season against Kashiwa Reysol last weekend.

    Tsuyoshi Otsuki's Reds were repeatedly exposed on the counterattack in a demoralizing loss that leaves them with just one victory from their past five league starts.

    Maeda tapped in from directly in front to open the scoring after Reds keeper Shusaku Nishikawa blocked his initial strike off a through ball from Mu Kanazaki.

    He beat Nishikawa from a similar position with his first touch following the restart, outsprinting the defense to a cross from the left by Mateus.

    Schmidt headed home at the start of the 18th minute from a corner, and Maeda struck again on the counterattack 20 minutes later, finishing on the run with poise as he threaded a shot between Nishikawa and defender Ryosuke Yamanaka from the right of the area.

    "I can't remember the last time I scored a hat-trick. Maybe it was in junior high. I'm very happy," said Maeda, a native of Saitama Prefecture who posed a constant threat working with Mateus and Xavier from the left wing.

    "We seemed to be connecting well down that side, so the manager told us to keep attacking from the same direction."

    The hosts continued to run the Urawa defense ragged on the counter, with Xavier picking up the ball at halfway and netting a stellar solo goal just seconds after Yamanaka hit the woodwork at the other end.

    Leonardo put the Reds on the board with his fifth goal of the season early in the second half, powering his way through a cluster of defenders before scoring from the six-yard box.

    But any morale boost for the visitors was short-lived, with Maeda stroking his fourth from yet another counterattack two minutes later.

    Leonardo, acquired this season from second-division Albirex Niigata, scored another consolation goal in the 76th minute.

    In other results from the top flight, league leaders Kawasaki Frontale remained the sole unbeaten club after topping Oita Trinita 2-0 for their eighth straight win.

    Second-place Gamba Osaka were 2-1 winners against visiting Yokohama FC after Patric found the net in the 94th minute. At Noevir Stadium, Vegalta Sendai also prevailed 2-1 over Vissel Kobe.

    Shimizu S-Pulse won 3-1 at home against Consadole Sapporo, Kashima Antlers beat visiting Sagan Tosu 2-0, and J1 returnees Kashiwa Reysol held reigning champions Yokohama F Marinos to a 1-1 draw at Nissan Stadium.

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