Kashiwa Reysol are slowly but surely returning to championship form as Nelsinho’s men edged Emperor’s Cup holders FC Tokyo 1-0 in a J. League makeup on Wednesday night.
Defender Tatsuya Masushima bagged the lone goal of the game seconds before halftime as the reigning champions won for the fifth time over their last six to pull within seven points of first-place Vegalta Sendai.
Tokyo tripped up at its old stomping ground at National Stadium, staying six points off the pace with its second defeat in three matches.
Kashiwa and Tokyo met for the first time in three years. Reysol won twice in 2009, 3-0 away and 4-0 at home, and still held the edge over Tokyo in the reunion.
Tokyo controlled the midfield for the most part, but could not create anything more than several half-chances for all its time on the ball.
Reysol, on the other hand, let the game come to them and fared better over the last third of the pitch, neatly picking apart the Tokyo defense.
Jorge Wagner should have pushed the visitors in front in the 37th minute but committed a criminal miss right in front of goal, blasting a completely free shot over the bar.
Wagner, though, made up for it in the first minute of first-half injury time by setting up the winner from a set piece.
From almost 40 meters out along the inside left channel, the Brazilian curled a free kick for the far post which defender Naoya Kondo first-timed to force a reflex save out of Shuichi Gonda.
But the relief of the Tokyo fans proved to be short-lived as Masushima beat everyone to the rebound, scraping home his third goal of the campaign.
In one other J1 game, Gamba Osaka and Nagoya Grampus drew 2-2 at Expo ’70 Stadium as the former Asian champions erased a two-goal halftime deficit to share the points with Dragan Stojkovic’s side.
Sendai, Cerezo through
Yoshiaki Ota scored against his old club as J. League leaders Vegalta Sendai whipped Jubilo Iwata 4-0 to book a place in the quarterfinals of the Nabisco Cup on Wednesday.
Ota, who started his career with Iwata in 2004 before joining Sendai in 2010, opened the scoring after 22 minutes and further goals from Brazilian striker Wilson, Shingo Akamine and Kodai Watanabe completed a comfortable victory at Yurtec Stadium.
Jubilo had started the day in top spot but the result saw Sendai grab the second berth from Group A and advance along with group winners Cerezo Osaka, who thrashed Sagan Tosu 5-0 at home, with Yoichiro Kakitani scoring twice at Kincho Stadium.
Cerezo will meet holders Kashima Antlers, who had already qualified from Group B along with Shimizu S-Pulse, while Sendai takes on FC Tokyo in the two-leg quarterfinals on July 25 and Aug. 8.
Shimizu finished top of Group B on goal difference ahead of Kashima despite going down 2-1 away in the final round of matches to Antlers, who had Japan Under-23 striker Yuya Osako to thank for sealing a double with the 90th-minute winner. They will take on Nagoya Grampus in the quarterfinals. Gamba Osaka meet Kashiwa Reysol.
J. League champion Kashiwa, Emperor’s Cup holder FC Tokyo, Nagoya and Gamba, the league’s four representatives in this season’s Asian Champions League, got a bye into the last eight.
The semis are on Sept. 5 and Oct. 13, with the final scheduled for Nov. 3.
In other group-stage games Wednesday, Urawa Reds beat Sanfrecce Hiroshima 3-0, Albirex Niigata edged Omiya Ardija 4-3 and Vissel Kobe won 3-2 at home to Yokohama F. Marinos.