TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Leo Ceara set up Yokohama F Marinos' first goal and followed that with a hat-trick in the J-League first-division leaders' 5-3 win over Shimizu S-Pulse on Saturday.
Marinos broke the ice in the 10th minute at Tokyo's National Stadium. After drawing a crowd of defenders just outside the area, Leo rolled the ball forward for midfielder Takuma Nishimura to smash past keeper Shuichi Gonda.
Some tough defending and a lucky break saw S-Pulse equalize moments later. Thiago Santana shoved an attacker off the ball in Shimizu's half and released Yuta Kamiya with a through pass. Kamiya's marker stumbled, and he calmly slotted past keeper Yohei Takaoka.
With seconds remaining in first-half injury time, Kota Mizunuma's cross from the right was met by a sliding Leo at the far post for his first goal.
"Leo and I have worked together a lot in practice, and before the game, I said, 'I'm going to get an assist for you tonight.'"
"We're in front now, but we need to aim for a higher level, and that means continuing to work hard while never being satisfied with what we've done."
Thiago Santana scored minutes after the break. Kamiya got on the end of a long ball on the left and crossed for his Brazilian strike partner to thunder home.
An S-Pulse disconnect gifted Leo a golden opportunity in the 49th minute. A poor back pass in midfield came straight to Leo, and he buried his second goal from long range.
Mizunuma once more played the provider in the 52nd minute. He dribbled toward the right post before laying off for Leo in front of goal to score his fifth goal in two games.
The teams traded goals in the final minutes to complete the scoring.
Marinos remained three points ahead of second-place Kashima Antlers, 2-1 winners at Kashiwa Reysol. Jean Patric's last-gasp winner lifted Cerezo Osaka to a 2-1 win over third-place Kawasaki Frontale, who fell six points off the pace.
Sanfrecce Hiroshima won 3-0 at home against Jubilo Iwata to sit a point further back in fourth place. Takumi Miyayoshi struck the late winner in Kyoto Sanga's 2-1 home win over Consadole Sapporo.
Danish defender Alexander Scholz equalized in the 92nd minute for Urawa Reds to salvage a 1-1 draw at Gamba Osaka, while Yoshinori Muto scored twice, lifting last-place Vissel Kobe to their third win of the season, 2-0 over Sagan Tosu.