League Cup

Kanazaki downs brave Vissel in Antlers’ Nabisco Cup march

Clinical edge was the difference for Kashima Antlers as a brace from Mu Kanazaki lifted them to a 4-1 win over Vissel Kobe in the second leg of the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup semi-final.

Antlers’ landslide win settled their affair 6-2 on aggregate and sees them progress to the final against holders Gamba Osaka, although the scoreline failed to disguise a valiant display from visiting Vissel on Sunday.

Atsutaka Nakamura fired home from inside the box in the 16th minute to add to the 2-1 advantage Masatada Ishii’s men took into their home tie, but Asahi Masuyama soon turned his man to lay the ball on a plate for Kazuma Watanabe to net Vissel’s temporary equaliser.

From there, the visitors applied constant pressure but still could not turn the tide despite proving a genuine menace to their hosts’ rearguard for the remainder of the game.

Nelsinho’s men were eventually made to pay when Kanazaki fired home Antlers’ second of the afternoon from a rebound, after Shuhei Akasaki saw his initial effort parried by Kenta Tokushige.

Kanazaki again found himself with the goal at his mercy when he latched onto a hashed Vissel clearance, the 26-year-old’s effort deflected by the last man on the line into the net.

Resistance had mostly crumbled by the time Caio burst into the box, beating two players before lashing his shot into the bottom right corner and leave nothing to chance.

Antlers now have the chance to add a record sixth Nabisco Cup to their trophy haul, when they meet Gamba in the final at Saitama Stadium at the end of October.

League Cup

Vissel woes deepen as Antlers seal Nabisco Cup win

Kazuya Yamamura and Shuhei Akasaki struck to lift Kashima Antlers to a 2-1 win at Vissel Kobe in the first leg of the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup semi-finals on Wednesday.

Matasada Ishii’s men seized the initiative in the opening stages and always looked in control against their hosts, who were on a torrid run of form entering the fixture and had just lost to the same opponents in their league clash last Saturday.

Antlers’ early pressure paid off when Yamamura opened the scoring in the 21st minute, firing his daisy-cutter through a crowd of players in the box.

The visitors did endure a scare when Hitoshi Sogahata dropped a ball at Leandro’s feet shortly afterwards, but the Brazilian could only turn against the post.

Instead, their nerves eased when Akasaki produced a tidy finish to double his side’s lead, although he was later guilty of giving away the ball in the action that led up to Vissel’s consolation goal.

Half-time substitute Michihiro Yasuda made the impact Nelsinho desired, robbing the forward before crossing for Takuya Iwanami to net with a towering header.

However, there would be no comeback for Vissel, who next travel to Kashima Stadium for the second leg on Sunday needing to win by at least two clear goals if they are to progress to the final.

League Cup

Rafael Silva fires Albirex on verge of fulfilling Nabisco Cup final dream

Rafael Silva netted the winner in Albirex Niigata’s 2-1 win over Gamba Osaka in Wednesday’s first leg of the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup semi-final - a fixture that saw both sides finish with 10 men.

Albirex are targeting their first ever appearance in the final of the competition, and immediately showed their ambitions as Ryohei Yamazaki went on a brilliant run from the halfway line, beating two players before seeing his low shot parried by Yosuke Fujigaya. 

It was opposite number Tatsuya Morita’s turn to produce a smart stop on Takahiro Futagawa’s free-kick, but the Albirex custodian could do little to prevent Kotaro Omori’s perfect header from going in in the 36th minute.

The hosts immediately went level thanks to Kosuke Yamamoto’s excellent display of footwork inside the Gamba box, the winger turning his man before lashing in his team’s equaliser.

Yamazaki’s pace and directness continued to threaten Gamba’s rearguard, and Yamamoto almost capitalised on a free-kick his team-mate had earned when Leo Silva shot took a deflection of him in the wall, before cannoning off the bar.

The midfielder’s good work was undone when he was sent off after being caught deliberately hacking at Shu Kurata’s ankle.

But just when Albirex would have been content hanging on for the draw, Rafael Silva - who had endured terrible luck with injuries to this point - went through on goal before side-footing home the winner to spark wild celebrations from the home team’s bench.

Masaaki Yanagishita’s men will travel to Saitama Stadium on Saturday hoping to fulfill their dreams of progressing to their maiden Nabisco Cup final against the holders, who must do without Kim Jung-ya after he was expelled for his second booking on Wednesday.

League Cup

Nabisco Cup trophy on display at Denka Big Swan Stadium

The J.League on Monday announced that the 2015 Yamazaki Nabisco Cup trophy will be on display at the first leg of the semi-final between Albirex Niigata and Gamba Osaka.

The cup will be displayed inside Denka Big Swan Stadium, at the first-level concourse of‘E’Stand, between 16:30 and 19:00 local time on Wednesday.

Albirex will seek to make the most of their maiden semi-final appearance in the tournament in front of their own fans.

Defending champions Gamba are looking to retain their title and win it for the third time in the process, but enter the fixture last having suffered a 5-3 loss at Kawasaki Frontale in the league.

League Cup

Nabisco Cup final date set for October 31

The J.League on Friday confirmed the kick-off time and broadcasting details for the upcoming 2015 J.League Yamasaki Nabisco Cup Final.

The showdown is to kick off at 13:05 on October 31 at Saitama Stadium, and will be aired Live on national broadcaster Fuji Television within Japan.

The semi-finals will take place on October 7 and 11, with Albirex Niigata taking on Gamba Osaka and Vissel Kobe facing Kashima Antlers.

Gamba have an opportunity to defend the trophy they lifted on the way to completing an historic domestic Treble last term.

League Cup

Antlers and Gamba exploit goalkeeping woes to go through in Nabisco Cup

Mu Kanazaki netted a brace as Kashima Antlers exploited FC Tokyo’s goalkeeping vulnerabilities, winning 3-0 in the second leg of the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup quarter-finals to progress.

Both sides headed into the tie at Kashima Stadium with the score finely poised at 2-2 from the first leg, and the hosts started out bristling with intent with the crowd behind them.

And it took only six minutes for Kanazaki to break the deadlock and put Masatada Ishii’s men into the lead, his shot straight at Tatsuya Enomoto bizarrely turned into Tokyo’s net by the custodian.

Antlers were in complete control from that point, and Kanazaki added another on the hour mark with another low shot from distance that Enomoto again should have dealt better with.

The night would get worse for the back-up keeper, who is minding the post in Shuichi Gonda’s absence, as Yasushi Endo pinged an unstoppable volley into the top corner of the net to seal emphatic passage to the semi-finals for Antlers.

Goalkeeping woes continued for Nagoya Grampus as drew 2-2 with Gamba Osaka in extra time and then lost their penalty shootout 10-9 to Gamba Osaka when custodian Yoshinori Takagi missed his spot-kick.

The tie began with the aggregate score at 1-1 after the first-leg, and Ryunosuke Noda burst through a crowd of Gamba bodies to put Grampus in the lead as early as the seventh minute, giving them the advantage.

But Hiroyuki Abe netted an equaliser for Gamba - who were always in the tie - before half time, with his goal eventually forcing it to extra time.

Kenta Hasegawa’s outfit then went into the lead in the via Keisuke Iwashita, but it was the hosts’ turn to now provide a response, as Marcus Tulio Tanaka arrived at the far post to head in Yoshizumi Ogawa’s delivery.

With the score deadlocked, it went down to penalties and substitute Grampus keeper Takagi blasted his kick against the bar, before his counterpart Yosuke Fujigaya subsequently scored the winner to send Gamba to the semi-finals.

There, the cup holders will face Albirex Niigata, who beat Urawa Reds by an aggregate score of 5-3.

League Cup

Comebacks insufficient for Reds and Reysol in Nabisco Cup

There was terrific drama as Vissel Kobe progressed to the semi-finals of the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup despite losing 3-2 to Kashiwa Reysol at home in the second leg of the quarter-finals on Sunday.

Despite succumbing to a 2-0 loss at Kashiwa Stadium in the first leg, Reysol were always capable of mounting a comeback and they proved it as they surged into a two-goal lead of their own within half an hour.

Ederson first escaped the attention of his marker to head in a cross from deep before Masato Kudo then turned in his own header, putting both teams level on aggregate.

Leandro then replied for Nelsinho’s Vissel, latching on to Kazuma Watanabe’s slide-rule pass to fire home, but Reysol would soon restore a two-goal advantage that would have taken them to the next stage on away goals.

That came in the second half when Cristiano knocked down for Ederson to nod in his second on the night, putting the visitors back in the driver’s seat. 

But Ryota Morioka had other plans, firing in a free-kick that went in after taking a huge deflection off Reysol’s wall to gift Nelsinho a 4-3 aggregate win over his former employers, and set up a semi-final meeting for Vissel with Kashima Antlers.

Meanwhile, Yuki Abe was on hand with a brace as Urawa Reds defeated Albirex 3-0 in their second leg fixture, but that was not enough to see them progress to the semis.

The home side knew the magnitude of overturning a 5-0 deficit from the first leg, but still set out to complete the task with an energetic display in the first period.

However, they were unable to find the breakthrough as the minutes ticked on, and it was only after the break that Abe recorded his and the Reds’ first of the night as his attempted backheel flick from a corner took a deflection in.

The goal still galvanised Mihailo Petrovic’s side and Tadanari Lee turned in Tomoya Ugajin’s cross just three minutes later to get the Saitama Stadium crowd in full voice and believing a comeback was on the cards.

It was in the 70th minute that Abe completed his brace, tucking home from the penalty spot, but it was ultimately not to be as Albirex secured passage to the semi-finals with a 5-3 win on aggregate.

League Cup

Gamba scrape to lucky cup draw against plucky Grampus

Yamazaki Nabisco Cup holders Gamba Osaka were held to a nervy 1-1 draw by Nagoya Grampus in the quarter-finals of the tournament on Wednesday, surviving a scare late on.

Lins earned a rare start with Takashi Usami and Patric out of the side, and the Brazilian made an immediate impact when he assisted Takahiro Futagawa for the opener inside six minutes.

But Gamba’s bright start soon fizzled out and Grampus found themselves back level via Ryunosuke Noda’s 76th-minute header from Kisho Yano’s delivery.

The hosts nearly fumbled their lead later when Yano had the chance to hand the visitors a valuable first-leg advantage, but his shot from a tight angle skimmed the woodwork.

Kim Jung-ya was also spared the blushes by his own post when his touch came back off it, and Gamba will consider themselves lucky as they make their way to Paloma Mizuho Stadium for the return leg on Sunday with the score still finely poised.

At Ajinomoto Stadium, Yasushi Endo’s magnificent left-footed strike was unable to secure victory for Kashima Antlers, their clash with FC Tokyo ending 2-2 with honours even.

It was the capital outfit who got off to a better start as Hiroki Kawano looped a header past a helpless Hitoshi Sagahata in a first half that also had goals disallowed for either side.

Antlers responded right after the break with Shuhei Akasaki stab home from point-blank range before Endo saw his long-range strike go in off the post.

But they were denied the crucial first-leg advantage when Shoya Nakajima tucked away a precise first-time effort with two minutes left on the clock, leaving the encounter to be decided at Saitama Stadium this Saturday.

League Cup

Upsets leave Reds and Reysol on verge of bowing out of Nabisco Cup

Albirex Niigata inflicted on Urawa Reds their second major defeat in a row, defeating them 5-0 in the first leg of the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday to ensure they are all but out.

The MEIJI YASUDA J1 League first stage winners suffered a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Shunsuke Nakamura’s Yokohama F.Marinos at the weekend and were seeking to bounce back here, though the majority of first-team players are on international duty.

However, despite a bright start, Mihailo Petrovic’s understrength side were caught out when a quick free-kick from deep in the Albirex half found Ryohei Yamazaki right before the half-time whistle, the striker firing home.

The floodgates duly opened in the second half as Michael James put the hosts 2-0 up, before Hiroshi Ibusuki netted a brace - his second goal a beautiful solo effort as he shrugged off the attentions of Ryota Moriwaki.

Albirex fittingly completed the rout through Rafael Silva, who celebrated his return to action following an injury lay-off by putting them in a commanding position ahead of Sunday’s second leg with the fifth goal.

The Reds were not the only ones who suffered an upset this round, as Kashiwa Reysol succumbed 2-0 at home to former coach Nelsinho’s side Vissel Kobe.

Tatsuma Yoshida watched as his Reysol missed a hatful of chances to open the scoring, with Vissel surviving seeing a sixth-minute header come off the bar.

The visitors held on till after the hour mark, when they burst forwards themselves and netted through Daisuke Ishizu.

Kazuma Watanabe then netted an 85th-minute clincher to put Vissel in the driving seat ahead of the return fixture at Kobe Universiade Memorial Stadium this weekend.

League Cup

Kickoff times set for Nabisco Cup quarter-final second Leg

The J.League on Monday confirmed kickoff times for the second leg of the 2015 Yamazaki Nabisco Cup quarter-finals.

The four teams which progressed from the group stage will next clash with Japan’s four AFC Champions League sides, with the second leg held on September 6 after the first on the 2nd.

Holders Gamba Osaka will travel to Nagoya Grampus at 19:30 local time with the objective of eventually defending the prize in the final at Saitama Stadium on October 31.

MEIJI YASUDA J1 League first stage winners Urawa Reds will meanwhile enjoy the return leg at home to Albirex Niigata at 19:00.

Earlier in the day, Kashima Antlers take on FC Tokyo at Kashima Stadium at 18:30, while a Nelsinho-led Vissel Kobe host Kashia Reysol in the first kick-off at 18:00.

League Cup

Nabisco Cup quarter-final timings confirmed

The J.League on Monday confirmed the kick-off times for the first leg of the 2015 Nabisco Cup quarter-finals.

All four fixtures will be held at 19:00 local time on September 2, with last season’s winners Gamba Osaka hosting Nagoya Grampus while MEIJI YASUDA J1 League first stage winners Urawa Reds travel to Albirex Niigata.

Kashiwa Reysol and FC Tokyo will host Vissel Kobe and Kashima Antlers respectively, meanwhile.

Details regarding domestic television broadcasts will be announced on a future date.

League Cup

Sekine seeking Reds’ redemption in Nabisco Cup quarter-finals

Takahiro Sekine hopes Urawa Reds make up for last season’s disappointment in the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup when they face Albirex Niigata in this year’s tournament.

The pair will face each other in the quarter-finals on September 2 and 6, with the Reds bowing out to Sanfrecce Hiroshima at this stage in 2014 on the away-goals rule.

And Sekine has urged the new MEIJI YASUDA J1 League first stage winners to redeem themselves with victory this time, and is confident their form puts them in a good position to progress.

“We didn’t lose either leg in last year’s quarter-finals, but we weren’t able to progress to the semi-finals,” the winger said after the draw was held on Monday.

“That’s the difficulty of the Nabisco Cup. It’s important to win on aggregate, so that’s our responsibility as players.

“No matter who our opponents are, we’ll earn a good result if we do our job. We’re playing well in the league, so I hope we’ll play well in the Cup too.”

On the other hand, Albirex have endured a difficult season, with Masaaki Yanagishita’s team finishing the first stage second from the bottom.

Forward Hiroshi Ibusuki nevertheless insisted his side are not intimidated by their opponents despite the difference in their respective league standing, and is targeting an upset.

“If we continued to win, there was a good chance we’d face Urawa Reds sooner or later,” the former Sevilla and Real Zaragoza youth said.

“If we can win the first match at home, we can get the momentum we need to win. Of course they won the first stage [of the league] and are without a doubt they’re a strong team.

“But it’s not impossible for us. I want to win these two games and move on to the semi-finals in order to play for the championship.”

League Cup

Vissel’s Yasuda counting on Nelsinho effect in Nabisco Cup

Vissel Kobe defender Michihiro Yasuda states their coach Nelsinho will be his side’s main advantage against Kashiwa Reysol in the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup quarter-finals.

The Brazilian will lead Vissel against his former side - whom he won the competition with in 2013 during a trophy-laden five-year spell in charge - on September 2 and 6.

And Yasuda fully expects the experience of the 64-year-old, who took charge at Vissel in January, to make its effect felt as the club aim to clinch a historic first piece of silverware.

“Our staff were hoping for Kashiwa Reysol and it felt like we’d get them one way or another. I’m excited for the matchup,” the left-back said after Monday’s draw.

“Our manager Nelsinho has won many championships, so we want to unite under him and play with all of our strength.

“Vissel haven’t won a title yet, and the one that’s closest within reach is the Nabisco Cup. I hope we’ll be smiling at the end.”

Opponents Reysol have meanwhile underperformed in the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League despite advancing to the quarter-finals of the AFC Champions League under new boss Tatsuma Yoshida.

But Kosuke Taketomi is hopeful fans will see a different side to the team when the second half of the season gets underway, and wants to make up with a cup win by the end.

“We still haven’t reached the level of play that our manager envisions,” he admitted.

“Recently we’ve won all sorts of different titles every season, and this year I hope that we play well and win another Nabisco Cup.”

Reysol will be hosting the first leg on September 2 at Kashiwa Stadium.

League Cup

Nabisco Cup quarter-final draw pits Tokyo against Antlers

The draw for the 2015 J.League Yamazaki Nabisco Cup’s knockout tournament was conducted on Monday at league headquarters in downtown Tokyo.

Players from all eight participating clubs in attendance, as it was determined FC Tokyo would face Kashima Antlers, while Urawa Reds took on Albirex Niigata.

Holders Gamba Osaka meanwhile face a test to their credentials in the form of Nagoya Grampus, as fellow AFC Champions League quarter-finalists Kashiwa Reysol challenge Vissel Kobe.

This stage of the tournament features the four teams to have progressed from the group stages, as well as the four Japanese representatives in this year’s.

First legs have been scheduled for September 2, with the return legs to be played on September 6.

Additionally, the J.League announced that the final will take place at Saitama Stadium for a second straight year on Saturday, October 31.

League Cup

FC Tokyo’s Yoshimoto confident against Antlers in Nabisco Cup

Kazunori Yoshimoto insists FC Tokyo will play to win against Kashima Antlers after they were drawn together in the 2015 Yamazaki Nabisco Cup quarter-finals.

The centre-back represented Tokyo at the draw conducted on Monday, which pits the pair against each other on September 2 at Ajinomoto Stadium.

Antlers will then enjoy home advantage during the return leg played at Kashima Stadium on the 6th, but Yoshimoto insists he is confident of the capital club earning a place in the semi-finals.

“We want to win,” the 27-year-old said immediately after the draw. “I want to be prepared and play well. If we can do that, we’ll earn a result”

Antlers’ representative Gaku Shibasaki nevertheless said his team would be giving priority to the cup, given it is their remaining chance of silverware this term.

“We’ve played well against FC Tokyo lately [in the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League], but every match is different and we have to properly prepare for this series,” the Japan international concluded.

League Cup

Niwa targets another Treble as Gamba learn Nabisco Cup opponents

Gamba Osaka defender Daiki Niwa targeted another Yamazaki Nabisco Cup win after his team were drawn to face Nagoya Grampus in the quarter-finals.

The pair face off in the clash which take place on September 2 and 6, with the cup holders hosting the first leg at Expo '70 Commemorative Stadium.

And Niwa, who was part of the side that clinched the trophy last November on the way to a historic domestic Treble, believes defending their trophy can spur them to similar heights this season.

“Last season we won this tournament and went on to win the league and the Emperor’s Cup. I want to win all three titles again this year,” the 29-year-old commented on Monday.

“This can be the first of three [trophies] so we have to keep winning and defend our crown.”

Nevertheless, Niwa insisted the Grampus threat was not to be taken lightly, although he remained confident of Gamba’s chances.

“When I think of Grampus, I think of Kengo Kawamata, Kensuke Nagai, Milivoje Novakovic, Marcus Tulio Tanaka, and Seigo Narazaki,” he continued.

“Akira Nishino is our former manager, but we’re not playing against their coaches. We must not concern ourselves with that, and play well against their team.”

Grampus forward Kawamata revealed the respect felt for their upcoming opponents was mutual and singled out Japan counterpart Takashi Usami as Gamba’s main threat, amongst others.

“Gamba as a team have a lot of very gifted players, including my former team-mate Masaaki Higashiguchi, who is there,” the 25-year-old said. “I’m looking forward to facing him.

“I think we have to watch out for Hiroyuki Abe, because we’re both the same age (laughs). Should I say Usami instead? Okay, we have to watch out for Usami.”

League Cup

Draw for Yamazaki Nabisco Cup knockouts to be streamed

The J.League announced that next Monday’s 2015 J.League Yamazaki Nabisco Cup knockout tournament open draw can be streamed for free.

J.League chairman Mitsuru Murai and female manager Miki Sato will lead the draw happening between 12:15 and 13:00 local time, with Live feeds found on FujiTerebi+ as well as the J.League’s official homepage.

The clubs that qualified will send eight player representatives to the event, with Kashima Antlers’ Gaku Shibasaki, Urawa Reds’ Takahiro Sekine, Nagoya Grampus’ Kengo Kawamata and Gamba Osaka’s Daiki Niwa amongst the names confirmed.

Kashiwa Reysol, FC Tokyo, Albirex Niigata and Vissel Kobe have also progressed to the knockout stages of the competition.

League Cup

Albirex, Vissel victories enough for Nabisco Cup progress

Albirex Niigata and Vissel Kobe joined FC Tokyo and Nagoya Grampus in progressing to the quarter-finals of the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup on Wednesday.

A final 20-minute blitz allowed Albirex to win 3-0 at Matsumoto Yamaga and move up to second, the final qualification spot, in Group A.

Group leaders FC Tokyo produced an inconsequential 0-0 draw at Shonan Bellmare, while Sanfrecce Hiroshima will be disappointed their 2-0 win over Ventforet Kofu had not been enough to see them go through.

In Group B, Vissel Kobe’s stunning 4-0 win at leaders Nagoya Grampus allowed them to finish second, all of the visitors goals coming in the second period.

Pedro Junior’s brace was pivotal to the victory of Nelsinho’s men, meaning Kawasaki Frontale’s 1-1 draw with Vegalta Sendai was ultimately futile.

Yokohama F.Marinos wrapped up thier 2-0 win at Montedio Yamagata by the end of the first half, although their performances in the Nabisco Cup have not matched those in the league, leaving them eliminated.

The four teams to make it out of the group stages will now wait to see who they face between Gamba Osaka, Urawa Reds, Kashima Antlers and Kashiwa Reysol in the quarter-finals.

The final eight will face off in a two-legged clash played on 2nd and 6th September.

League Cup

Muto preserves FC Tokyo’s lead in Nabisco Cup

The fifth round of the J.League Yamazaki Nabisco Cup group stages took place on Wednesday night, with six matches played across groups A and B.

Yoshinori Muto scored twice as Group A leaders FC Tokyo earned a dramatic 2-1 win over Ventforet Kofu, moving them up to 10 points and undefeated in all four matches.

Shonan Bellmare rose to second in the group with their 2-1 win over Matsumoto Yamaga meanwhile, with Sagan Tosu slid into third despite besting Sanfrecce Hiroshima by a 1-0 result.

In Group B, Nagoya Grampus earned a tough 2-1 away win at Shimizu S-Pulse thanks to goals by Tomoya Koyamatsu after the hour mark and Milivoje Novakovic four minutes from full time.

Grampus’ 13 points to date guarantees a finish of second place or higher, ensuring their advancement to the knockout stage.

Elsewhere in Group B, Kazuma Watanabe’s two goals kept Vissel Kobe in second place after a 3-2 win at Yokohama F. Marinos.

Their three-point lead over third-placed Montedio Yamagata, who drew 1-1 with Kawasaki Frontale, will be a big advantage as they look to advance to the quarter-finals.