Urawa Reds beat Albirex Niigata 5-2 to finish J-League's 1st stage undefeated



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SAITAMA, Japan — Shinzo Kuroki and Yuki Muto scored two goals each on Saturday as Urawa Reds beat Albirex Niigata 5-2 to finish the J-League's first stage undefeated.

Kuroki opened the scoring with his sixth goal of the season in the 21st minute and Muto doubled the advantage with a right-foot shot from 20 meters 10 minutes before the break.

Muto widened the lead four minutes into the second half and Kuroki put the result beyond doubt in the 56th.

Reds won the J-League's first-stage title a week ago to book a spot in the championship playoffs starting late November. The second stage starts July 11.

The winners of each stage and top three clubs of the aggregate table will qualify for the championship.

Urawa finished the first stage with 41 points, six ahead of FC Tokyo which beat Shimizu S-Pulse 3-2.

In other matches, Sanfrecce Hiroshima finished in third place after a 2-2 draw with Sagan Tosu and defending champions Gamba Osaka, in fourth, beat Montedio Yamagata 3-1, thanks to a hat trick by Takashi Usami.

Kawasaki Frontale finished fifth after a 3-2 victory over Kashima Antlers while Yokohama F Marinos were held to a 1-1 draw by Vissel Kobe. Vegalta Sendai defeated Nagoya Grampus 2-0, Ventforet Kofu drew 1-1 with Kashiwa Reysol and Shonan Bellmare edged Matsumoto Yamaga 3-2.

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