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Kennedy’s hat-trick shoots Nagoya into Emperor’s Cup semis

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Australian striker Josh Kennedy stole the show with a hat-trick as Nagoya Grampus beat second-division FC Gifu 3-0 to move into the semifinals of the Emperor’s Cup on Sunday.

Kennedy headed Grampus in front on the stroke of halftime and added a second on 68 minutes before wrapping up victory seven minutes from time at Mizuho Stadium.

Nagoya will meet Shimizu S-Pulse, who edged Albirex Niigata 3-2 on Saturday, in the semifinals at Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa on Dec. 29.

Holders Gamba Osaka beat J-League champions Kashima Antlers 2-1 on Saturday and will face second-division champions Vegalta Sendai, 2-1 winners over Kawasaki Frontale, in the other semi at Tokyo’s National Stadium, venue for the New Year’s Day final.