Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Kashima Antlers win the Emperor's Cup to claim the double in Japan

Kashima Antlers win the Emperor's Cup to claim the double in Japan.
Kashima Antlers claimed a League and Cup double by lifting the season-ending Emperor's Cup in front of a sell-out crowd of 46,357 fans at the National Stadium in Tokyo.

The Ibaraki giants never looked threatened after they opened the scoring in the eighth minute, when young defender Atsuto Uchida thumped an unstoppable drive into the far corner of Hiroshima shot-stopper Takashi Shimoda's goal.

Hiroshima were missing highly-rated youngster Yosuke Kashiwagi through suspension, after he picked up a yellow card in the southern club's 3-1 semi-final defeat of Gamba Osaka three days earlier. The Japan u-23 international was sorely missed, as Hiroshima rarely pressured newly crowned J-League champions Kashima, who beat Kawasaki Frontale 1-0 to reach the Emperor's Cup final.

A comfortable Kashima victory was completed when veteran striker Atsushi Yanagisawa came off the bench to set-up fellow substitute Danilo with a cushioned pass, with the former Sao Paulo midfielder fairly lashing the ball beyond Shimoda to end the scoring.

The win capped a remarkable season for Kashima - who won the treble in 2000 when they added the League Cup crown to their J-League and Emperor's Cup trophies, and who claimed the double in 2007 following their unlikely J-League triumph.

Kashima will take on Chinese side Beijing Guoan, Vietnamese outfit Nam Dinh FC and Thai team Krung Thai Bank in the group stage of the 2008 AFC Champions League, having ended the long Japanese campaign as the premier team in Japanese football.

Copyright © Michael Tuckerman & Soccerphile.com

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