Monday 12 December 2011

Japanese champions Kashiwa reach last four of Club World Cup

Eight days after sealing their historic first J. League championship, Kashiwa Reysol proudly flew the flag for Japan by edging Monterrey of Mexico in a dramatic penalty shootout to set up a FIFA Club World Cup semi-final date with Brazilian giants Santos.

After 120 minutes of highly entertaining football had ended with the sides still level at 1-1 – Leandro Domingues’s opener for Kashiwa in the second half of normal time having been quickly cancelled out by Humberto Suazo – Takanori Sugeno denied Monterrey captain Lucho Pérez at the first kick of the shootout to immediately put the host nation representatives in the driving seat.

Both teams missed with their fourth penalties, but substitute forward Ryohei Hayashi made no mistake with Reysol’s fifth to spark yet more celebrations for the men in yellow.

Kashiwa had eased into the competition with a 2-0 victory over Oceania champions Auckland City of New Zealand in Thursday’s opening match, and coach Nelsinho Baptista saw no need to make changes to a team that was at full strength bar the absent backup defender Park Dong-Hyuk – whose end-of-season departure was confirmed last week.

In the opening stages it looked as if their first ever international adventure would be a short one, however, as Monterrey dominated the first quarter with pace and numbers in attack. Chilean forward Suazo was a constant menace, striking the foot of the opposite post from César Delgado’s pinpoint cross before sending a direct free kick curling narrowly wide moments later.

But having weathered the early storm, Kashiwa began to settle into the contest and created their first two good chances either side of half time. Junya Tanaka could only head a deep cross from Hiroki Sakai into the side netting, while strike partner Masato Kudo hit a difficult left-footed volley over the crossbar three minutes after the restart.

The first goal soon arrived on 53 minutes. After Leandro had lost possession on the edge of the area, Tanaka was quick to pounce on the loose ball and cut a cross back for the Brazilian near the penalty spot. The J. League’s Most Valuable Player was able to adjust his position to fire a spectacular volley into the far corner beyond the dive of Jonathan Orozco.

Their lead was short-lived, however, as Monterrey quickly regrouped to hit Reysol on the counter five minutes later. Delgado beat the offside trap to collect a long pass played down the right-hand flank and send in another perfect cross for Suazo, who made no mistake this time as his outstretched left boot stabbed the ball past Sugeno at the far post.

Kashiwa recovered from the disappointment to regain control and were comfortably the most threatening thereafter, with Orozco forced into two smart saves from Tanaka headers, but the game steadily settled into a stalemate situation as the end of first normal time, then extra time approached.

The home crowd enjoyed the perfect start to the penalty competition when Sugeno superbly kept out Pérez, and Reysol were on the brink of glory when Orozco struck the post with the CONCACAF champions already 3-2 behind.

Monterrey’s goalkeeper partially redeemed himself by saving from Tanaka immediately afterwards, but Hayashi held his nerve with Kashiwa’s fifth to secure that glamour tie against Santos in Toyota this Wednesday.


Goalscorer Leandro Domingues spoke to Football Japan after the quarter-final win that capped a momentous week for Kashiwa.

“We were thrust into this tournament after winning the J. League just last Saturday, and this was already our second game. By contrast our opponents had had plenty of time to rest, thus we started off at a real disadvantage.

“Monterrey were a really high-quality team and it was a very close contest. But we had found our rhythm and were passing the ball around well in the lead up to our goal; and I was happy with my finish. It was just a shame that we then made a mistake and conceded the equaliser so soon afterwards.

“But we won in the end to seal our progression and that is the most important thing. It is a dream for any footballer to play in the Club World Cup – I was delighted to score and am thankful to all of my team mates.

“Santos are a world-class team, just like Barcelona. So that will be a very tough game, but I think we can surprise them.”

- AFC Champions League winners Al-Sadd beat Espérance of Tunisia 2-1 in the other Club World Cup quarter-final thanks to goals from Khalfan Ibrahim and Abdulla Koni. The Qataris will now face European champions FC Barcelona in Yokohama this Thursday.
- A J. League board meeting held this afternoon officially approved the promotion to J2 of JFL sides Matsumoto Yamaga and Machida Zelvia. The latter beat Kamatamare Sanuki 2-0 yesterday to seal the required top four finish.

The Football Japan Minutecast’s Ben Mabley tells the story of Japanese club football through eight previous thrilling title races in Issue Three of The Blizzard. Visit for details.

FIFA Club World Cup quarter-final results
Esperance (TUN) 1-2 Al-Sadd (QAT)
Kashiwa Reysol (JPN) 1-1 Monterrey (MEX) (after extra time; Kashiwa win 4-3 on penalties)

FIFA Club World Cup first round result
Kashiwa Reysol (JPN) 2
-0 Auckland City (NZL)

Japan Football League final standings
2) Nagano Parceiro 63
3) Machida Zelvia 61 – promoted
4) Matsumoto Yamagata 59 – promoted
5) V-Varen Nagasaki 56
6) Honda FC 52
7) Zweigen Kanazawa 47
8) Honda Lock 47
9) FC Ryukyu 46
10) Tochigi Uva 45
11) Kamatamare Sanuki 40
12) Sagawa Printing 38
13) MIO Biwako Kusatsu 38
14) Blaublitz Akita 37
15) Yokogawa Musashino 36
16) Arte Takasaki 34
17) JEF Reserves 19 – withdrawn
18) Sony Sendai 16*

* Sony Sendai played a reduced schedule of 17 matches due to damage sustained in the 11 March earthquake and were exempt from relegation

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Monday 05 December 2011

Kashiwa Reysol clinch historic J2-J1 double

Kashiwa Reysol have clinched a historic first ever J. League title just twelve months after winning promotion back to the top flight as J2 champions, following a 3-1 victory away to Urawa Reds on Saturday afternoon.

The Sun Kings went into the final day of the season with their destiny in their own hands, but knowing that their advantage at the top was precarious enough that either Nagoya Grampus or Gamba Osaka could steal in unless they secured all three points against an Urawa side still not 100% guaranteed of survival.

But if Kashiwa were feeling the pressure, they rarely showed it throughout an afternoon on which they dominated their opponents and never once even fell from the summit of the provisional table.

The opening goal arrived in somewhat frantic circumstances just before the half hour mark. Naoya Kondo’s header from a Jorge Wagner corner was cleared off the line into the path of Leandro Domingues, whose shot then struck the upright and rebounded back to Wagner. From an acute angle, the Brazilian blasted the ball between Nobuhiro Kato’s legs and into the net off the inside of the goalkeeper’s left knee.

A delicate overhead kick by Wataru Hashimoto nine minutes later gave Kashiwa a deserved 2-0 lead at half time, but Yosuke Kashiwagi ensured that the second period would not be without tension – in the stands, at least – when his header halved the deficit eight minutes after the restart.

Despite outshooting the home side by an overwhelming 25 attempts to four, it took until a quarter of an hour from time – and a horrendous goalkeeping error – for Reysol’s glory to be finally secured. Akimi Barada’s speculative 25-yard effort lacked pace but Kato appeared to misjudge the bounce of the ball before his feet and embarrassingly spooned it with both hands into the net behind.

The precise manner of the goals mattered not, however, for Kashiwa had once again risen to the occasion when it counted most to seal a title few had ever believed possible.

The architect of their triumph, Brazilian manager Nelsinho Baptista, appeared absolutely delighted at his post-match press conference in Saitama.

“I am very satisfied that we have managed to remain in or close to a title-winning position throughout the entire 2011 season,” said Nelsinho. “It gives me great pride to end up as champions of such a difficult league. I would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations to all of the players that have fought all year to achieve this success.”

Last year’s champions Nagoya finished a point behind in second despite winning 1-0 at Albirex Niigata thanks to a sweetly-taken free kick by Keiji Tamada. Gamba put in a fine attacking performance to beat Shimizu S-Pulse 3-1 at Nihondaira – Lee Keun-Ho starring with two goals and an assist – but other results meant this was ultimately only good enough for third place.

Kashiwa’s title victory has also earned them the right to take part in the FIFA Club World Cup as representatives of the host nation. Their campaign will get under way this Thursday with a first round match against Auckland City of New Zealand in Toyota.


Ventforet Kofu will join long-since-relegated Avispa Fukuoka and Montedio Yamagata in the second tier next season following their 3-1 final day defeat at Omiya Ardija. Even with Urawa’s loss, the Yamanashi side would have needed an unlikely 12-goal victory to ensure their survival.

Alongside J2 champions FC Tokyo, the bottom three will be replaced in the top flight by Sagan Tosu and Consadole Sapporo, who respectively achieved the results they required to confirm promotion earlier on Saturday.

Tosu drew 2-2 at home to Roasso Kumamoto, while Sapporo beat FC Tokyo 2-1 to end the hopes of Tokushima Vortis, who slipped to a late 1-0 loss at Fagiano Okayama.

Elsewhere in J1, Vegalta Sendai beat Vissel Kobe 2-0 to leapfrog Yokohama F Marinos into fourth position after the latter could only draw 1-1 at home to Kashima Antlers.

Cerezo Osaka thrashed Fukuoka 7-1, Sanfrecce Hiroshima won 3-1 in Yamagata, while Jubilo Iwata edged a 2-1 victory over Kawasaki Frontale.

- Matsumoto Yamaga of the third-tier Japan Football League guaranteed their elevation to J2, subject to the final approval of the J. League later this month, with a 2-0 win over Honda Lock on Sunday.
- Kashima Antlers announced on Monday that manager Oswaldo de Oliveira, who led the side to three consecutive league titles from 2007 to 2009, will not remain at the club next season. His departure follows that of Akira Nishino, another former championship-winning manager, from Gamba Osaka.

The Football Japan Minutecast’s Ben Mabley tells the story of Japanese club football through eight previous thrilling title races in Issue Three of The Blizzard, which is out later this week. Visit for details.

J1 results (matchday 34)
Vegalta Sendai 2-0 Vissel Kobe
Montedio Yamagata 1-3 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Urawa Reds 1-3 Kashiwa Reysol
Omiya Ardija 3-1 Ventforet Kofu
Yokohama F Marinos 1-1 Kashima Antlers
Albirex Niigata 0-1 Nagoya Grampus
Shimizu S-Pulse 1-3 Gamba Osaka
Jubilo Iwata 2-1 Kawasaki Frontale
Cerezo Osaka 7-1 Avispa Fukuoka

J1 final standings
2) Nagoya Grampus 71
3) Gamba Osaka 70
4) Vegalta Sendai 56
5) Yokohama F Marinos 56
6) Kashima Antlers 50
7) Sanfrecce Hiroshima 50
8) Jubilo Iwata 47
9) Vissel Kobe 46
10) Shimizu S-Pulse 45
11) Kawasaki Frontale 44
12) Cerezo Osaka 43
13) Omiya Ardija 42
14) Albirex Niigata 39
15) Urawa Reds 36
16) Ventforet Kofu 33
17) Avispa Fukuoka 22
18) Montedio Yamagata 21

J2 final standings
1) FC TOKYO 77
2) Sagan Tosu 69
3) Consadole Sapporo 68
4) Tokushima Vortis 65
5) Tokyo Verdy 59
6) JEF United Chiba 58
7) Kyoto Sanga 58
8) Giravanz Kitakyushu 58
9) Thespa Kusatsu 57
10) Tochigi SC 56
11) Roasso Kumamoto 51
12) Oita Trinita 50
13) Fagiano Okayama 48
14) Shonan Bellmare 46
15) Ehime FC 44
16) Kataller Toyama 43
17) Mito HollyHock 42
18) Yokohama FC 41
19) Gainare Tottori 31
20) FC Gifu 24

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Monday 28 November 2011

J. League set for three-way title battle on final Saturday

The J. League title battle will go down to a three-way shootout on the final day after leaders Kashiwa Reysol were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Cerezo Osaka on Saturday afternoon.

After a goalless, error-strewn first half, the hosts had their status as championship favourites severely threatened when Cerezo took the lead three minutes into the second period. A Hiroyuki Omata corner from the left-hand side was headed on by Hiroshi Kiyotake for the unmarked Taikai Uemoto to fire in from six yards.

The goal sparked Kashiwa into life, with Koki Mizuno firing narrowly over and Junya Tanaka hitting the post as the players in yellow piled forwards in search of an equaliser. It finally arrived on 65 minutes; Tanaka laying the ball off for Leandro Domingues to slot home from inside the D.

Reysol were unable to find a winner but the draw at least allowed them to escape with a one-point lead over second-placed Nagoya Grampus, who ran out comfortable 3-0 winners at home to bottom side Montedio Yamagata.

All three goals arrived in the first half as the result of Jungo Fujimoto set pieces – Joshua Kennedy heading home a corner for his 19th league goal of the season on just seven minutes, before Marcus Tulio Tanaka was first to get a head, then a foot to two long-range free kicks in eight minutes before the interval.

Gamba Osaka retained their hopes of glory in third position with a tense 1-0 victory over Vegalta Sendai. South Korean forward Lee Keun-Ho scored the only goal with a header from Hiroki Fujiharu’s cross, but Gamba were given several scares in the dying minutes – Diego heading over a glorious opportunity from close range before young defender Kim Jung-Ya got in a terrific block to deny Yuki Muto.

Each of the three contenders face tricky away fixtures next Saturday, with Kashiwa travelling to Urawa Reds in search of the three points that will guarantee them a historic title in their first season since promotion from J2.

Any slip-up would let in Nagoya if they can win at Albirex Niigata, while Gamba will be on hand to climb two positions if both of their rivals drop points and they can clinch victory at Shimizu S-Pulse.


Ventforet Kofu’s relegation back to the second division after just one season was all but confirmed when closest rivals Urawa carved out a narrow 2-1 victory away to already-relegated Avispa Fukuoka.

A 32nd-minute opener from the edge of the box by Hideya Okamoto had the Reds on the ropes, but momentum was recovered when Japan midfielder Yosuke Kashiwagi equalised with the help of a deflection right on half time.

Toshiya Suemoto then saw red for a tug on Tsukasa Umesaki just after the hour mark, presenting Marcio Richardes with the opportunity to give Urawa the lead from the spot. The Brazilian made no mistake and the visitors saw the game out to move to the brink of safety.

Kofu’s spirits appeared unaffected as they then thumped Niigata 3-0 on Sunday afternoon, despite the absence through suspension of top scorer Mike Havenaar, thanks to goals from Atsushi Katagiri, Yuji Yabu, and Yoshifumi Kashiwa. Their chances of survival, however, will depend upon an improbable 14-goal swing on the final day as Urawa enjoy a three-point cushion and a comfortably superior goal difference.

Elsewhere, Juninho said farewell to the Kawasaki Frontale fans who have worshipped him for nine years with two goals in a 3-0 victory over Kanagawa neighbours Yokohama F Marinos.

Kashima Antlers held onto sixth place after beating Shimizu by a similar scoreline, while Sanfrecce Hiroshima moved up to seventh with a 4-2 win against Omiya Ardija. Vissel Kobe beat Jubilo Iwata 3-1 to leapfrog their opponents into eighth.

- The Japanese men’s Olympic side moved a step closer to a place in London next year with victories over Bahrain and Syria in Asian qualification. Yuki Otsu of Borussia Mönchengladbach was the hero with goals in each match.
- Sagan Tosu virtually assured their place in J1 next season with a 3-0 thrashing of Tokushima Vortis, who slip out of the final promotion berth behind Consadole Sapporo on goal difference with one match to play.

The Football Japan Minutecast’s Ben Mabley tells the story of Japanese club football through eight previous thrilling title races in Issue Three of The Blizzard, which is out later this week. Visit for details.

J1 results (matchday 33)
Kashima Antlers 3-0 Shimizu S-Pulse
Kashiwa Reysol 1-1 Cerezo Osaka
Kawasaki Frontale 3-0 Yokohama F Marinos
Nagoya Grampus 3-0 Montedio Yamagata
Gamba Osaka 1-0 Vegalta Sendai
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 4-2 Omiya Ardija
Avispa Fukuoka 1-2 Urawa Reds
Ventforet Kofu 3-0 Albirex Niigata
Vissel Kobe 3-1 Jubilo Iwata

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Monday 21 November 2011

Kashiwa get one hand on the title

Four points from their remaining two matches will be enough to secure a historic J. League championship for Kashiwa Reysol in their first season after promotion from J2, following a dramatic 2-1 win away to Shimizu S-Pulse on Sunday afternoon.

Afshin Ghotbi’s home side were on a good run of late season form, having won their previous three matches at Nihondaira, and looked to have thrown a spanner into the Reysol works with the game’s opening goal shortly before half time. Fredrik Ljungberg was felled by Ryoichi Kurisawa, providing Australian centre-back Eddy Bosnar with the opportunity to smash home a trademark low free kick from almost 35 yards.

But Masato Kudo levelled with a low header just after the hour mark as Kashiwa laid siege to the Shimizu goal in search of the result that would reaffirm their position at the top, after Nagoya Grampus had temporarily risen to the summit on goal difference with victory at Yokohama F Marinos 24 hours earlier. Kudo thought he had found the scoresheet again from another header on 69 minutes only to be denied by an offside flag.

The winning goal finally arrived with five minutes remaining. Jorge Wagner’s powerful shot from the left-hand side of the penalty area was well parried by S-Pulse ‘keeper Kaito Yamamoto, but Leandro Domingues was able to quickly adjust his body position and skilfully head the ball into the empty net.

Gamba Osaka went into the antepenultimate weekend in second position but their hopes of a first league title in six years suffered a heavy blow with a 2-2 draw at Albirex Niigata that sees them drop four points off the pace.

It could have been worse for the Kansai side as goals from Yuta Mikado and Bruno Lopes put the hosts into a 2-0 lead with just 20 minutes remaining. Rookie striker Shota Kawanishi saved Gamba’s blushes with two expertly taken goals in an explosive substitute appearance, but despite near-constant pressure until the final whistle they were unable to complete the comeback.

This allowed reigning champions Nagoya to establish themselves as the closest challengers to Kashiwa, three points off the lead, after their tight 2-1 win in Yokohama. A controversial free kick by Shunsuke Nakamura – taken while the Grampus wall was still lining up – looked set to earn Marinos a point before Joshua Kennedy headed home the winner on 83 minutes.

Victory for Reysol at home to Cerezo Osaka next Saturday would seal the title if Nagoya fail to beat Montedio Yamagata. Both Nagoya and Gamba have, however, now ensured their places in next season’s AFC Champions League.


Urawa Reds inched closer to survival with a goalless draw on a near-waterlogged pitch against Vegalta Sendai, as third-from-bottom Ventforet Kofu went down to a painful 2-1 defeat at Jubilo Iwata.

Hidetaka Kanazono converted low crosses from Gilsinho and Yuichi Komano to score twice in the opening ten minutes for Jubilo, and while a first professional goal for Atsushi Izawa quickly reduced the deficit to one, Ventforet were frustrated thereafter as they struggled to create the chances that might have rescued a point or better.

Their disappointment was further aggravated in second half stoppage time with a second yellow card for star striker Mike Havenaar – although, perversely, the dismissal will actually free the Japan international to play on the final day of the season. The red card triggered an automatic one-match ban, overriding the two-game suspension Havenaar would have received for his eighth caution of the year.

The loss for Kofu also ensured the survival of four other sides – Omiya Ardija, who drew 1-1 with Kashima Antlers; Kawasaki Frontale, who came from behind to win 3-2 at Sanfrecce Hiroshima; Cerezo Osaka, despite a 3-0 home drubbing by Kansai rivals Vissel Kobe; and Albirex Niigata.

Relegated Avispa Fukuoka moved off the bottom of the table for the first time all season with a crushing 5-0 rout of Montedio Yamagata.

- FC Tokyo secured promotion back to J1 at the first attempt with an easy 5-1 win away to Gainare Tottori on Saturday, and were handed the J2 title 24 hours later as closest challengers Sagan Tosu slipped to a surprise 3-2 home defeat at the hands of Giravanz Kitakyushu.
- Matsumoto Yamaga of the third-tier Japan Football League will be the sole non-J. League side in the last 16 of the Emperor’s Cup after beating Albirex Niigata 1-0 last Wednesday. J2 strugglers Mito HollyHock and Ehime FC also created shocks with wins away to Gamba Osaka and Sanfrecce Hiroshima, respectively.

That’s all for today – join me again next week for news from the penultimate weekend, in which the title and relegation battles could be decided. Bye for now!

J1 results (matchday 32)
Urawa Reds 0-0 Vegalta Sendai
Yokohama F Marinos 1-2 Nagoya Grampus
Albirex Niigata 2-2 Gamba Osaka
Jubilo Iwata 2-1 Ventforet Kofu
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2-3 Kawasaki Frontale
Montedio Yamagata 0-5 Avispa Fukuoka
Omiya Ardija 1-1 Kashima Antlers
Shimizu S-Pulse 1-2 Kashiwa Reysol
Cerezo Osaka 0-3 Vissel Kobe

Emperor’s Cup third round results
Nagoya Grampus 1-0 Giravanz Kitakyushu
Kashiwa Reysol 6-1 Ventforet Kofu
Yokohama F Marinos 3-0 Tochigi SC
Albirex Niigata 0-1 Matsumoto Yamaga
Kashima Antlers 2-1 Kataller Toyama (after extra time)
Montedio Yamagata 2-3 Kyoto Sanga
Kawasaki Frontale 4-0 Oita Trinita
Fukuoka University 0-3 Shonan Bellmare (after extra time)
Gamba Osaka 2-3 Mito HollyHock (after extra time)
FC Tokyo 2-1 Vissel Kobe (after extra time)
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 0-1 Ehime FC
Urawa Reds 2-1 Tokyo Verdy
Cerezo Osaka 3-0 Fagiano Okayama
Vegalta Sendai 3-1 Avispa Fukuoka
Shimizu S-Pulse 5-0 Gainare Tottori
Jubilo Iwata 0-1 JEF United Chiba

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Wednesday 16 November 2011

Japan surrender to North Korea (but are through to the next round of World Cup qualifying anyway)

Japan secured their passage to the final round of Asian qualifying for the 2014 World Cup with two games to spare following a comfortable 4-0 win in Tajikistan on Friday, but their 16-match unbeaten run under Alberto Zaccheroni came to an end with a 1-0 defeat away to North Korea yesterday evening.

The Samurai Blue embarked on a historic first visit to Pyongyang since the Italia ’90 qualifiers fully 22 years ago in the knowledge that the result of their fifth Group C match would be inconsequential. After goals from Yasuyuki Konno, Ryoichi Maeda, and a brace by Shinji Okazaki had made light of a difficult pitch in Dushanbe, Uzbekistan had beaten the North Koreans 1-0 to ensure progress for both themselves and Japan; meaning that the Chollima were eliminated just 17 months after appearing at the World Cup finals in South Africa.

This afforded Zaccheroni the luxury of rotating his line-up, making fully six changes to the side that had seen off Tajikistan. In came Shusaku Nishikawa in goal, Masahiko Inoha and Yuzo Kurihara in defence, Hajime Hosogai and Hiroshi Kiyotake in midfield, and Maeda as the lone striker.

Previous ‘away’ meetings, such as the 2006 qualifier in Bangkok, had been played on neutral territory, but on this occasion a small pocket of heavily-guarded Japanese fans and journalists were allowed to witness a game of football preceded by the playing of their national anthem, Kimigayo, at the Kim Il-Sung Stadium.

Unsurprisingly, given the historical and political relationship between the two countries, the anthem was roundly jeered by the 50,000 home crowd. An atmosphere of unique hostility and choreography ensued from the kickoff, with North Korea immediately bursting forwards and pressing the rattled Japanese defenders with terrific intensity – in stark contrast to the side that had largely defended with eleven men when the teams met in Saitama back in September.

Japan, the Asian champions, barely made it into the attacking third of the field throughout a first half in which their hosts won a succession of corners and were generally superior throughout. The novelty for the international audience was only enhanced by the sight of one of Pyongyang’s famous ‘mass games’ displays, with thousands of North Koreans holding up coloured cards to fill the main stand with enormous messages of support for their side.

The pressure finally paid off on the pitch when the game’s only goal arrived five minutes into the second period. The Korean number four, one of two players named Pak Nam-Chol in the starting eleven, beat Yuichi Komano to a flick-on from Pak Kwang-Ryong and sent a low-powered header inside the post beyond a slow-reacting Nishikawa.

Zaccheroni responded by switching to a 3-4-3, with Atsuto Uchida brought on for Kengo Nakamura and Mike Havenaar later replacing Maeda, but Japan were only really able to take charge of the game after the persistently tough-challenging North Korea were reduced to ten men on 77 minutes with the dismissal of Jong Il-Gwan.

Even then, the visitors were unable to find the killer touch as the Chollima held on to celebrate a landmark victory.


The Japan manager offered a candid assessment in the first losing press conference of his reign.

“North Korea played very well and were highly concentrated on this game. Because their elimination had already been confirmed, they could play without worrying about collecting several yellow cards, which we could not. The desire that they showed to win this particular match was on a different level to ours.”

Japan will host Uzbekistan in their final third round match on 29 February 2012, with the fourth and final round set to kick off on 3 June.


The third round of the domestic Emperor’s Cup will be played on Wednesday evening, with details to follow in next week’s Minutecast.

World Cup qualification results (AFC third round)
Group A
Iraq 1-0 China
Jordan 2-0 Singapore
Singapore 0-4 China
Jordan 1-3 Iraq
Jordan and Iraq both through to fourth round

Group B
United Arab Emirates 0-2 South Korea
Kuwait 0-1 Lebanon
Lebanon 2-1 South Korea
Kuwait 2-1 United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates eliminated

Group C
Tajikistan 0-4 Japan
Uzbekistan 1-0 North Korea
North Korea 1-0 Japan
Uzbekistan 3-0 Tajikistan
Uzbekistan and Japan both through to fourth round

Group D
Oman 1-0 Australia
Saudi Arabia 3-0 Thailand
Thailand 0-1 Australia
Saudi Arabia 0-0 Oman
Australia through to fourth round

Group E
Bahrain 1-1 Iran
Qatar 4-0 Indonesia
Indonesia 1-4 Iran
Qatar 0-0 Bahrain
Iran through to fourth round; Indonesia eliminated

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Friday 04 November 2011

Status quo maintained as leaders Reysol refuse to feel the pressure

The status quo at the top of J1 was maintained on Thursday’s Culture Day holiday with all three title contenders winning – but leaders Kashiwa Reysol can be satisfied that their bid to win the title as reigning J2 champions is now a game closer to realisation after their emphatic 4-0 thrashing of Albirex Niigata.

Any possibility of nerves was removed on just eight minutes when Leandro Domingues netted from the spot after Masato Kudo had been felled by Kazuhiro Chiba. The Brazilian then doubled the advantage ten minutes before half time, latching onto a beautifully lofted through ball from compatriot Jorge Wagner to fire past Yohei Takeda.

Wagner got on the scoresheet himself ten minutes after the interval, heading home a cross from the overlapping left-back Wataru Hashimoto, and a comfortable afternoon was rounded off with a fourth by Junya Tanaka in stoppage time.

Gamba Osaka remain two points adrift in second following a professional 1-0 victory at home to Yamazaki Nabisco Cup winners Kashima Antlers. The visitors were a regular threat throughout the first half – going closest when Yuya Osako’s curling effort struck the woodwork – but Gamba found the only goal early in the second with a classic breakaway. Hiroki Fujiharu’s left-footed cross found an unmarked Rafinha for the mid-season arrival to nod in his 11th goal in 15 appearances.

Title-holders Nagoya Grampus are still just a point further back in third thanks to a 3-1 win over Cerezo Osaka. Jungo Fujimoto expertly curled home a free kick to open the scoring, and though Rui Komatsu levelled from the spot soon afterwards, J1 leading scorer Joshua Kennedy restored the Grampus advantage with a fine header three minutes before half time.

Substitute Kensuke Nagai made sure of the points late in the second period.


Montedio Yamagata had their long-inevitable relegation confirmed after three seasons in the top flight with a 2-0 defeat at Vissel Kobe, while Ventforet Kofu threw away a great opportunity to escape the relegation zone in a crazy last five minutes at home to erstwhile title challengers Yokohama F Marinos.

Leading 1-0 through Mike Havenaar – who joins Kennedy on 17 goals for the season – the Kofu resistance broke on 86 minutes when Shunsuke Nakamura picked out former Japan teammate Masashi Oguro to head home a deserved equaliser.

But the hosts only had themselves to blame three minutes later when defender Daniel failed catastrophically in his attempt to shepherd the ball out of play, allowing Yuzo Kurihara to beat both him and goalkeeper Hiroki Aratani before cutting back to Kentaro Moriya. The Marinos substitute made no mistake in converting a dramatic winner into the empty net from 20 yards.

The result ought to have been a boost to fourth-from-bottom Urawa Reds, whose home meeting with Jubilo Iwata kicked off an hour after full time in Kofu. But once again the 2007 Asian champions crumbled in embarrassing fashion, going down 3-0 thanks to two Ryoichi Maeda goals either side of a smart lofted finish from Ryohei Yamazaki.

Urawa therefore remain just two points clear of safety, albeit with a considerably superior goal difference to Ventforet. Meanwhile, Saitama neighbours Omiya Ardija gained an invaluable 1-0 victory away at Kawasaki Frontale to all but secure their survival – moving eight points ahead of the drop zone with just nine left to play for.

Already-relegated Avispa Fukuoka came from two behind to draw 2-2 at home to Shimizu S-Pulse – with all four goals coming inside a seven-minute spell in the second half – while Vegalta Sendai played out a goalless stalemate with Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

- Ryoichi Maeda’s two goals in Urawa were the perfect way to cap a recall to the Japan squad for next week’s World Cup qualifiers in Tajikistan and North Korea. Hiroshi Kiyotake and Atsuto Uchida both return from injury, but Keisuke Honda remains sidelined with a knee problem.

J1 results (matchday 31)
Kashiwa Reysol 4-0 Albirex Niigata
Kawasaki Frontale 0-1 Omiya Ardija
Ventforet Kofu 1-2 Yokohama F Marinos
Nagoya Grampus 3-1 Cerezo Osaka
Gamba Osaka 1-0 Kashima Antlers
Vegalta Sendai 0-0 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Urawa Reds 0-3 Jubilo Iwata
Vissel Kobe 2-0 Montedio Yamagata
Avispa Fukuoka 2-2 Shimizu S-Pulse

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Monday 31 October 2011

Osako the hero as Antlers clinch Nabisco glory in extra time

Kashima Antlers collected the first major silverware of the Japanese season with a 1-0 victory over relegation-battling Urawa Reds in the final of the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup.

With both sides reduced to ten men during a goalless 90 minutes, Yuya Osako finally broke the deadlock late in the first period of extra time to seal a sixth trophy in five years for a generally superior Kashima outfit.

After a cagey first half, the match suddenly turned at the start of the second when Urawa midfielder Naoki Yamada was dismissed for two quick-fire offences. Though perhaps unfortunate to receive a yellow card for his initial challenge on Toru Araiba, the 21-year-old left referee Minoru Tojo with little option after a foolish late lunge on Takeshi Aoki just three minutes later.

Oswaldo de Oliveira’s side quickly took advantage to stamp their impression on the final, introducing a third forward in Yuzo Tashiro and placing the Urawa defence under relentless pressure with a succession of chances. Takuya Nozawa was a constant menace – denied twice by desperate blocks from defender Mizuki Hamada and goalkeeper Nobuhiro Kato, and crossing in a teasing free-kick only for Osako to head narrowly wide.

Numerical parity was restored after 80 minutes when Antlers defender Aoki picked up his second booking for an innocuous-looking challenge on Genki Haraguchi. But the red card had little impact on the overall dynamic, with Kashima continuing to force the Reds back line deep into their own half as the game entered extra time.

They finally got their reward with a move of real attacking quality in the 105th minute. Tashiro chested down and skilfully returned the ball to Shinzo Koroki, who had continued his run into the left-hand side of the penalty area. The occasional Japan forward then rolled a perfect low cross along the Urawa six-yard line for an unmarked Osako to slot home at the far post.

The Reds had no answer, and Kashima’s victory could even have been more emphatic as both Gaku Shibasaki and Koji Nakata struck the crossbar in the second extra period.


This latest title is a record fourth for Kashima in the 20-year history of the competition and comes in a season during which the club was forced to suspend all activities for two weeks in the wake of the 11 March earthquake and tsunami.

The fact was not lost on captain Mitsuo Ogasawara, scorer of the only goal when Antlers beat Urawa by the same scoreline to lift the cup back in 2002.

He commented, “Having suffered the earthquake earlier this year, we wanted to show everybody back home that we could succeed. I think this victory is extremely meaningful.”

Manager De Oliveira, who remains in negotiations to extend his trophy-laden reign beyond the end of this season, added: “We have been through an awful lot this year. I am sure it has been highly stressful for the players. But the players were the ones who came through and won it for us today.”

- FC Tokyo remain four points clear at the head of J2 with five games to play despite only drawing 1-1 in the capital city derby with Tokyo Verdy. Second-placed Sagan Tosu surprisingly dropped two points in a thrilling 4-4 draw away to bottom-of-the-table FC Gifu.
- Consadole Sapporo held onto the third and final promotion spot with a 3-0 win at home to Roasso Kumamoto, but Tokushima Vortis are still just a point behind after earning a crucial 1-0 victory away to fifth-placed JEF United Chiba.
- K-League side Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors will host Al-Sadd of Qatar in the AFC Champions League final next Saturday after both came through their semi-finals in midweek. The South Koreans eliminated Cerezo Osaka at the last eight stage.

Yamazaki Nabisco Cup final result
Urawa Reds 0-1 Kashima Antlers (after extra time)

AFC Champions League semi-final first leg results
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (KOR) 2-1 Al-Ittihad (KSA)
Jeonbuk win 5-3 on aggregate

Al-Sadd (QAT) 0-1 Suwon Samsung Bluewings
Al-Sadd win 2-1 on aggregate

This article is based on a match report written by Ben Mabley for on Saturday.

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Monday 24 October 2011

Reysol come from behind to demonstrate title quality

J1 leaders Kashiwa Reysol made a clear statement of intent in their bid to win the title just a year after promotion, as they came from behind to win 3-1 away to Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

After a goalless first half, former Reysol striker Tadanari Lee looked to have pushed his former club off track with a terrific opener for Sanfrecce twelve minutes into the second – twisting away from his marker before lofting the ball over goalkeeper Takanori Sugeno from almost 30 yards.

But the visitors remained calm and underlined their championship credentials with a valiant late fightback. Brazilian wide man Jorge Wagner equalised with a first-time, left-footed volley, before crossing for evergreen forward Hideaki Kitajima to beat Japan custodian Shusaku Nishikawa via a clever back-header on 82 minutes.

Kitajima sealed three vital points for Kashiwa five minutes later; reacting quickest to net the rebound after Nishikawa had failed to hold onto a free kick effort from Wagner.

Second-placed Gamba Osaka remain two points off the lead despite an easy 5-0 romp at Montedio Yamagata. Takahiro Futagawa got the 2005 champions off the mark on the half hour, before Lee Keun-Ho danced through the home side’s defence to double the advantage via a 1-2 with strike partner Rafinha.

The South Korean international then sent in a low cross for young left-back Hiroki Fujiharu to celebrate his first goal in professional football, while further strikes from Rafinha and substitute Shota Kawanishi took free-scoring Gamba’s seasonal goal tally to 71 from 30 games.

The result means that Yamagata will have to win all four of their remaining matches to have any hope of survival.

Reigning champions Nagoya Grampus edged a topsy-turvy battle at Omiya Ardija by 3-2 to stay just a point behind Gamba in third. Two goals in two second-half minutes from Keigo Higashi and Rafael gave the Squirrels a sudden 2-1 lead after Grampus had led through Marcus Tulio Tanaka’s third-minute opener, but Keiji Tamada found space in a crowded penalty area to level the scores again and set up a dramatic finale.

With just six minutes remaining, Yuki Fukaya foolishly held back Nagoya striker Joshua Kennedy in the penalty area, and the Australian dusted himself off to fire in his 16th league goal of the season from the spot.


Avispa Fukuoka saw their inevitable relegation confirmed with a 3-1 reverse at Albirex Niigata on Sunday afternoon. Hopes of a miracle recovery began to fade in only the second minute when midfielder Isao Honma curled in a spectacular opener for Albirex, while a second-half brace from Cho Young-Cheol sealed Avispa’s fate long before Yutaka Takahashi’s late consolation.

In their first season back in the top flight following a four-year absence, the Kyushu club have mustered just 18 points from their 30 games thus far, losing fully 22 of them.

With Yamagata almost certain to join them in J2 next season, the battle is on to escape the final spot in the bottom three, and Urawa Reds took a huge step towards survival by surprisingly winning 2-1 away to title outsiders Yokohama F Marinos.

The Reds, who fell into 16th position last weekend and subsequently fired manager Željko Petrović last Thursday, looked set for another day of struggle as Masashi Oguro put the home side in front just four minutes into the first half.

But Naoki Yamada gained a controversial opportunity to equalise early in the second after he was adjudged to have been felled by Marinos defender Yuzo Kobayashi. The 21-year-old’s penalty was comfortably saved, but Genki Haraguchi was able to steal in and fire home the rebound.

Urawa then sealed a priceless victory just after the hour mark – Tsukasa Umesaki leading a 3-on-2 breakaway from a quick restart and making space to hit a low strike past Hiroki Iikura.

Ventforet Kofu slipped back two points behind the safety line, on 30 points, after a comprehensive 3-0 loss at Shimizu S-Pulse 24 hours later. 14th-placed Omiya have 35 points, while Vissel Kobe slipped to 13th with a 1-1 draw at Kashima Antlers and cannot afford to relax yet on 37.

Elsewhere, Hiroshi Kiyotake returned after a month’s absence to help Cerezo Osaka to a crushing 4-0 away defeat of Jubilo Iwata.

- Cerezo forward Ryuji Bando equalled the J. League record by scoring for the ninth time as a substitute this season. His injury-time strike was also the 100th league goal of his career.
- FC Tokyo maintained their seven-point lead at the top of J2 thanks to a goalless draw away to second-placed Sagan Tosu. Tokushima Vortis moved into the third promotion spot after Consadole Sapporo suffered a shock loss at Gainare Tottori.

J1 results (matchday 30)
Vegalta Sendai 0-0 Kawasaki Frontale
Montedio Yamagata 0-5 Gamba Osaka
Omiya Ardija 2-3 Nagoya Grampus
Yokohama F Marinos 1-2 Urawa Reds
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-3 Kashiwa Reysol
Kashima Antlers 1-1 Vissel Kobe
Shimizu S-Pulse 3-0 Ventforet Kofu
Albirex Niigata 3-1 Avispa Fukuoka
Jubilo Iwata 0-4 Cerezo Osaka

AFC Champions League semi-final first leg results
Suwon Samsung Bluewings (KOR) 0-2 Al-Sadd (QAT)
Al-Ittihad (KSA) 2-3 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (KOR)

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Monday 17 October 2011

Kashiwa leapfrog Gamba into top spot as Urawa drop into bottom three

Reigning J2 champions Kashiwa Reysol returned to the top of J1 with five matches to play following defeat for previous leaders Gamba Osaka at Nagoya Grampus, while Urawa Reds – Japan’s most popular club – slipped into the bottom three with a dramatic derby day loss against Omiya Ardija.

Four points off the pace heading into the weekend, Grampus knew defeat was unthinkable in order to retain realistic hopes of defending their J. League crown. They were gifted the perfect start on 11 minutes when a fluffed clearance by Gamba ’keeper Yosuke Fujigaya allowed Keiji Tamada to steal in and square for Naoshi Nakamura to score the opener.

Gamba fought back to level midway through the first half through Tomokazu Myojin after a darting break from Korean forward Lee Keun-Ho, but their recent history of goalkeeping mishaps in this fixture continued early in the second as Fujigaya allowed a low corner kick from Jungo Fujimoto to curl inside his near post without touching another player.

Nakamura dispossessed Yasuhito Endo to double the home side’s advantage with a dipping effort from 25 yards, before Fujimoto completed a fine team move with his second and Nagoya’s fourth late on.

The 4-1 scoreline was slightly harsh on Gamba but received enthusiastically in Kashiwa, where Reysol knew victory in their match with second-from-bottom Montedio Yamagata 24 hours later would allow them to move into a two-point lead at the top.

Nelsinho Baptista’s men were strangely off par and only managed to register four goal attempts all game, but gained the one opportunity that mattered on 33 minutes when Yamagata defender Hidenori Ishii was controversially adjudged to have impeded Tatsuya Masushima in the penalty area. Jorge Wagner converted from the spot to give Kashiwa an invaluable 1-0 win.

Fourth-placed Yokohama F Marinos fell seven points off the new leaders’ pace as a late strike from Georgian midfielder David Mujiri earned a point at the Nissan Stadium for Sanfrecce Hiroshima. Vegalta Sendai are now just two points further back in fifth after a brace from Toshihiro Matsushita sent them on the way to a 3-0 victory at Avispa Fukuoka – and a club record sixth J1 win on the bounce.


At the opposite end of the table, Ventforet Kofu put real pressure on the sides above them by opening the weekend with a 4-0 hammering of Cerezo Osaka away at the Kincho Stadium.

Paulinho burst through to give the visitors the lead on just two minutes, before sending in a low cross for man-of-the-moment Mike Havenaar to score the second just before the half-hour mark. The Japan forward of Dutch parentage later matched his brace against Tajikistan last week with Kofu’s third, before substitute Yusuke Inuzuka completed the scoring in second half stoppage time.

This took Ventforet out of the bottom three ahead of the Saitama derby, with Urawa now a point behind the safety line but knowing victory in front of a home crowd of over 34,000 would not only leapfrog them back over Havenaar and company, but also their opponents and neighbours, Omiya.

However, the Reds once again lacked any real potency in attacking areas, and they were made to pay with six minutes remaining when Hayato Hashimoto sent in a cross for Rafael to rise highest and head the visitors into a decisive 1-0 lead.

The result means that Urawa remain on just 29 points from as many games, with Kofu’s perfectly-timed run of form taking them to 30. Omiya now have a six-point safety margin on 35 where they are joined by Albirex Niigata, who eked out a crucial 2-1 win at Kawasaki Frontale despite a second yellow card for the unfortunate Naoya Kikuchi.

Elsewhere, an own goal by Shuto Yamamoto helped Kashima Antlers to a rather lucky 2-1 victory at Jubilo Iwata, while Vissel Kobe drew 1-1 at home to Shimizu S-Pulse.

- Sagan Tosu won 1-0 away to Consadole Sapporo to move above their opponents into second place in J2 on goal difference. Both clubs are, however, still seven points adrift of leaders FC Tokyo, who thumped Fagiano Okayama 3-0.

J1 results (matchday 29)
Cerezo Osaka 0-4 Ventforet Kofu
Jubilo Iwata 1-2 Kashima Antlers
Yokohama F Marinos 1-1 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Urawa Reds 0-1 Omiya Ardija
Nagoya Grampus 4-1 Gamba Osaka
Vissel Kobe 1-1 Shimizu S-Pulse
Avispa Fukuoka 0-3 Vegalta Sendai
Kashiwa Reysol 1-0 Montedio Yamagata
Kawasaki Frontale 1-2 Albirex Niigata

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Wednesday 12 October 2011

Japan forget goalscoring troubles with 8-0 annihilation of Tajikistan

Japan stamped their impression on Asian qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in devastating fashion with an 8-0 demolition of Tajikistan at the Nagai Stadium in Osaka yesterday evening.

Mike Havenaar made the headlines with two headed goals on his first start for the Samurai Blue, while there were also braces for both Shinji Okazaki and Shinji Kagawa. Yuichi Komano and Kengo Nakamura also made the scoresheet on a night where the home side dominated from the first whistle, registering 39 shots on goal to their opponents’ one.

The emphatic scoreline stands in stark contrast to Japan’s first two qualifying matches last month, which saw a last-gasp 1-0 win over North Korea followed by a 1-1 draw in Uzbekistan. Alberto Zaccheroni had used last Friday’s friendly with Vietnam in Kobe as an opportunity to retry his 3-4-3 backup formation, but another turgid display resulted only in a 1-0 victory that impressed few observers.

Tadanari Lee, the goalscorer on that occasion, was left out against Tajikistan in favour of 6’ 5” (194cm) forward Havenaar, who served as the lone striker in Japan’s regular 4-2-3-1 system. Nakamura was chosen to play as the central attacking midfielder in the continued absence of Keisuke Honda, while Komano took the place of the injured Atsuto Uchida at right-back.

Aware of the need to score early against opponents that had previously restricted Uzbekistan and North Korea to single-goal wins, Japan began at a high tempo and got off the mark inside just eleven minutes – Havenaar rising tallest to head home an inviting cross from Komano.

Okazaki combined cleverly with Komano and Nakamura to beat Tajikistan goalkeeper and captain Alisher Tuychiev for Japan’s second eight minutes later, before Komano scored himself with the aid of a slight deflection from just outside the penalty area. Kagawa made the score 4-0 just before half-time with a deft, first-time shot off the outside of his right boot from Nakamura’s incisive through ball.

Less than a minute into the second period, Havenaar scored in almost identical fashion to his opener, before being withdrawn for Tadanari Lee soon afterwards to rousing applause. The Japanese pressure was unrelenting, and Nakamura capped a superb all-round performance with a low shot across the goalkeeper for the sixth goal on 55 minutes.

As if to exemplify the hosts’ irresistible control on proceedings, a cross-cum-shot from Kagawa sailed over Tuychiev and into the top corner of the net to push the score up to seven. Nakamura then looped a cross to the opposite side of the six-yard box for Okazaki to head the eighth – and, as it proved – final goal for Japan with a quarter of an hour remaining.


Speaking to Football Japan after the game, midfielder Yasuhito Endo highlighted Havenaar’s 11th-minute opener as the key to his side’s dominant performance.

“The fact that we scored in the first half made it much easier for us to control the game. If we had got to half-time at 0-0 again, then the match might well have gone quite differently, so I was glad that we scored early on.”

The Gamba Osaka star also described the relentless flow of pressure as being ‘the Japanese way’.

“It is in our nature to keep pushing onwards. I think the desire to score more goals and give a better and better impression of ourselves stems from the hard-working ethic that is typical of the Japanese people. This nature shapes the style of our team.”

Zaccheroni appeared similarly satisfied in his post-match press conference, saying “This team has to continue growing ever further. But, in this sense, I felt we finally achieved both a good result and a good performance in this game. Right from the outset, the players concentrated hard and played well for 90 minutes until the very end.”

- Alexander Geynrikh scored the only goal as Uzbekistan edged North Korea 1-0 in Pyongyang in the other Group C game. Japan now lead the table on goal difference at the halfway mark.
- Kashima Antlers and Urawa Reds will contest the final of the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup on 29 October after successfully coming through both quarter and semi-final matches in the past week. Kashima required extra time to see off both Yokohama F Marinos and Nagoya Grampus, while Urawa accounted for the two Osaka clubs, Cerezo and Gamba.
- Fukuoka University caused the biggest upset of the Emperor’s Cup second round over the weekend by winning away to J1 side Omiya Ardija on penalties. Matsumoto Yamaga of the third-tier JFL were also surprise winners at home to Yokohama FC of J2.

World Cup qualification results (AFC third round)
Group A
Singapore 0-3 Jordan
China 0-1 Iraq

Group B
South Korea 2-1 United Arab Emirates
Lebanon 2-2 Kuwait

Group C
North Korea 0-1 Uzbekistan
Japan 8-0 Tajikistan

Group D
Australia 3-0 Oman
Thailand 0-0 Saudi Arabia

Group E
Indonesia 2-3 Qatar
Iran 6-0 Bahrain

International friendly result
Japan 1
-0 Vietnam

Emperor’s Cup second round results
Nagoya Grampus 6-0 FC Suzuka Rampole
FC Gify 0-1 Giravanz Kitakyushu
Kashiwa Reysol 2-0 Tochigi Uva
Ventforet Kofu 2-1 Machida Zelvia
Yokohama F Marinos 3-1 Kamatamare Sanuki
Tochigi SC 2-1 Honda Lock
Albirex Niigata 5-0 Toyama Shinjo Club
Yokohama FC 0-2 Matsumoto Yamaga
Kashima Antlers 2-0 University of Tsukuba
Kataller Toyama 2-2 Sagan Tosu (after extra time; Toyama won 5-3 on penalties)
Montedio Yamagata 2-0 Blaublitz Akita
Kyoto Sanga 3-0 Sagawa Printing
Kawasaki Frontale 2-1 Arte Takasaki (after extra time)
Oita Trinita 1-0 Tokushima Vortis
Omiya Ardija 1-1 Fukuoka University (after extra time; Fukuoka University won 5-3 on penalties)
Shonan Bellmare 2-1 Fagiano Okayama Next
Gamba Osaka 2-0 Sagawa Shiga
Consadole Sapporo 2-3 Mito HollyHock (after extra time)
FC Tokyo 4-0 FC Kagoshima
Vissel Kobe 8-0 Sanyo Electric Sumoto SC
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 4-2 Zweigen Kanazawa
Ehime FC 2-0 FC Ryukyu
Urawa Reds 4-1 Miyazaki Sangyo-Keiei University
Tokyo Verdy 7-1 V-Varen Nagasaki
Cerezo Osaka 6-0 Hokkaido University of Education Iwamizawa Campus
Thespa Kusatsu 0-1 Fagiano Okayama (after extra time)
Vegalta Sendai 2-1 Sony Sendai (after extra time)
Avispa Fukuoka 3-0 Kochi University
Shimizu S-Pulse 2-0 FC Gifu Second
Gainare Tottori 3-0 Roasso Kumamoto
Jubilo Iwata 3-0 Fukushima United
JEF United China 1-0 Dezzola Shimane

Yamazaki Nabisco Cup semi final results
Nagoya Grampus 1-2 Kashima Antlers (after extra time)
Urawa Reds 2-1 Gamba Osaka

Yamazaki Nabisco Cup quarter final results
Kashima Antlers 3-2 Yokohama F Marinos (after extra time)
Nagoya Grampus 5-3 Albirex Niigata (after extra time)
Gamba Osaka 3-1 Jubilo Iwata
Cerezo Osaka 1-2 Urawa Reds

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