Sunday, November 4, 2007

Thine Cup Runneth Over

The action in Japan switched from league football to the knock-out variety this weekend, with Gamba Osaka winning the Nabisco League Cup by defeating Kawasaki Frontale 1-0 at a packed National Stadium in Tokyo on November 3.

Japan under-20 international Michihiro Yasuda scored the only goal in the 56th minute, but after weathering an early Kawasaki onslaught, Gamba were worthy winners.

Referee Toshimitsu Yoshida waved away appeals for a penalty in the first half after Gamba midfielder Takahiro Futagawa was seemingly brought down inside the area by Kawasaki goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima, while Brazilian ace Magno Alves thumped the post with a blistering strike late in the second half, with Kawashima well beaten.


League Cup Final 2007, National Stadium, Tokyo

The Fourth Round of the Emperor's Cup got under way on November 4, with JEF United going down 3-1 to visitors Oita Trinita in one of only two all-J1 encounters. Defender Masato Morishige opened the scoring for Oita after just three minutes, with striker Daiki Takamatsu adding a second ten minutes later. Brazilian marksman Reinaldo pulled a goal back for the Chiba side, but playmaker Tsukasa Umesaki added a third for Oita before half-time, to send JEF United crashing out of the competition. Omiya Ardija went down 2-0 to Yokohama FC in the other all-J1 clash, with Kunihiko Takizawa and Shingo Nejime scoring the goals for Yokohama.

One of the shocks of the day came at Big Swan Stadium in Niigata, where mid-table J2 side Sagan Tosu stunned J1 high fliers Albirex Niigata 3-2. Sanfrecce Hiroshima had no such trouble in beating J2 side Shonan Bellmare 3-0, while Vissel Kobe beat Avispa Fukuoka 2-0. Struggling Ventforet Kofu knocked out Tokushima Vortis with a 3-1 win, Nagoya Grampus Eight beat Thespa Kusatsu by the same scoreline and Kashima Antlers saw off local rivals Mito Hollyhock 2-0 in an Ibaraki derby, with Yuzo Tashiro and Mitsuo Ogasawara scoring the all-important goals.

Japan Football League's Honda FC stunned J1 outfit Kashiwa Reysol, winning 3-2 in a pulsating contest at Kashiwa Stadium. The visitors went ahead through striker Junya Nitta, before Kashiwa fought back through goals from Tatsuya Yazawa and Brazilian midfielder Alceu. Nitta's strike partner Kodei Suzuki forced the game into extra-time with a 77th minute equaliser, and Suzuki was the hero for Honda FC, scoring a dramatic last minute winner to send the Hamamatsu-based team into the Fifth Round.

Honda FC's neighbours Jubilo Iwata had no trouble disposing of Juntendo University 6-1, but Jubilo's bitter rivals Shimizu S-Pulse needed penalties after they were held to a thrilling 3-3 draw by Meiji University at Nihondaira Stadium.

Meiji University score a last minuet equaliser
The students took a shock lead ten minutes before half-time, but when Shimizu forged ahead through late goals from Akihiro Hyodo and Naoki Aoyama, the result appeared a foregone conclusion. Meiji University had other ideas, and a dramatic last minute equaliser forced the match into extra-time. They appeared to have won it when they scored first in extra-time, but when Man-Of-The-Match Aoyama headed home with five minutes of extra-time remaining, the match went to penalties.

Only the crossbar saved Shimizu S-Pulse from an embarrassing exit, with the Shizuoka side flawless from the penalty spot. Meiji rattled the woodwork with their second penalty, as the students succumbed to an agonising defeat.

Penalty heartbreak for Meiji University

FC Tokyo needed an 82nd minute winner from Japan international Yasuyuki Konno to see off Japan Football League side TDK SC 2-1, while Yokohama F. Marinos were more convincing against current JFL leaders Sagawa Kyubin SC, winning 4-1, with striker Daisuke Sakata scoring a brace.

The Fourth Round is completed on November 7 when Gamba Osaka take on J2 side Montedio Yamagata, while Kawasaki Frontale face a tough prospect in another J2 outfit in the form of Cerezo Osaka, who are involved in a desperate race for promotion from the J-League's second tier.

Copyright © Michael Tuckerman & Soccerphile.com

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