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'New Hagi' propels Sanfrecce to the top

In my opinion, Gheorghe Hagi was one of the greatest attacking midfielders ever to grace the game of football. Luckily for me, some memories came flooding back watching the highlights of Sanfrecce Hiroshima's 2-0 win away at Vegalta Sendai.

'The new Hagi' (dare I say it!), Yojiro Takahagi, set up both goals from the right wing. The goalkeeping may have been suspect, but the setting up of the goals was worthy of a number ten worth his salt...and perhaps some of it got sprinkled in the keeper's eyes, especially for the first goal headed home by Naoki Ishihara.

The 26-year-old Takahagi set up the second for Hisato Sato (so good they nearly named him twice, like New York, New York) for his 13th of the season.

So, at the half-way stage of the season, Sanfrecce have stolen top spot and won't have to relinquish it before the end of the month when J1 football resumes. And what a game is in store then, as they play host to second-placed Omiya Ardija: level on points with Hiroshima, but out of form.

Meanwhile, in J2, Yasuhito Endo scored what turned out to be the winner in a Kansai 'derby' as table-toppers Gamba Osaka beat their rivals, Vissel Kobe, 3-2. More than 18,000 fans turned up at the Expo '70 stadium to see the visitors take the lead through Popo, only for Takashi Usami to celebrate his return from Hoffenheim with a brace.

The two Kansai clubs still look well-placed for automatic promotion, but JEF United are running into form now, so may steal one of the top spots.

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