World Cup striker Shinji Okazaki sent newly appointed national team coach Alberto Zaccheroni a timely message with a trademark header as Shimizu S-Pulse held holders FC Tokyo to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Nabisco Cup quarterfinal on Wednesday.
FC Tokyo had enjoyed slightly better chances in a tepid affair at Ajinomoto Stadium, but with Zaccheroni watching from the stands, Okazaki put Shimizu in front midway through the second half.
S-Pulse’s hopes of breaking their jinx over Tokyo were dashed though as Masato Morishige headed in with 11 minutes left to make it all square ahead of next week’s return leg in Shizuoka.
“It was really hot and my players did well over the 90 minutes. We got an away goal and hopefully we can put in a performance at home next week and make it through to the next round,” said Shimizu manager Kenta Hasegawa.
In other quarterfinal action, Kashima Antlers edged last year’s beaten finalists Kawasaki Frontale 2-1 at home courtesy of Shinzo Koroki’s 55th-minute effort, while goals from Gilsinho and Norihiro Nishi saw Jubilo Iwata beat Vegalta Sendai by the same scoreline at Yamaha Stadium.
At Big Arch, Lucas’ goal proved the difference as Gamba Osaka won 1-0 against Sanfrecce Hiroshima.