KASHIWA, CHIBA PREF. – Former J. League champions Kashiwa Reysol avoided a potential banana skin and edged non-league Yokogawa Musashino 1-0 on Saturday to advance to the last eight of the Emperor’s Cup.
Yokogawa had knocked out holders FC Tokyo en route to the fourth round and the absence of Kashiwa’s influential Brazilian duo Leandro Domingues (suspended) and Jorge Wagner (injured) further fueled the JFL club’s optimism ahead of a mist-enshrouded tie in north Chiba.
But Junya Tanaka deservedly fired Kashiwa in front on 24 minutes with what proved to be the decider, setting up a quarterfinal meeting with Omiya Ardija on the Emperor’s birthday in Kumagaya on Dec. 23. Milivoje Novakovic scored twice as Omiya came from 3-0 down to beat Kawasaki Frontale 4-3.
“Yokogawa were dark horses and had already beaten FC Tokyo so we knew it wouldn’t be easy,” said Kashiwa manager Nelsinho.
“We had some good spells in the first half but made mistakes in the final third and weren’t able to capitalize on all the chances we made.”
“It is typical in a game against a team like this to make 15 chances and not take them and your opponents take their one opportunity. We really rode our luck at times. That said, overall we were fairly solid,” said the Brazilian.
Youth product Ryosuke Yamanaka deputized for Wagner and the 19-year-old nearly opened the scoring with a 30-meter effort that fizzed just over the crossbar after 11 minutes.
Masato Kudo and Masakatsu Sawa both went close before Tanaka broke the deadlock with an angled half volley after Kudo’s shot had been charged down by Shunsuke Hayashi.
Yokogawa failed to register a single shot on target in the first period and Kashiwa continued to dominate after the interval, substitute Kwon Han Jin shooting a whisker past the post in the 50th minute.
At the other end, Yosuke Kobayashi could only direct his header straight at Kashiwa goalkeeper Takanori Sugeno, but Yokogawa grew in confidence and started to put real pressure on Reysol.
With eight minutes left, Sugeno pulled off a fabulous save from Ryoya Ueda’s deflected shot and Tatsuya Sekino then blew another great chance for the visitors two minutes later.
“The first half was everything. We wanted to get to the break without conceding but we ended up having to chase the game,” said Yokogawa manager Hiroki Yoda.
“The aim was not to concede another goal in the first 15 minutes of the second half. We did make two or three chances but to beat J. League teams you have to take them.”
In other early kickoffs, JEF United Chiba rebounded from their promotion playoff heartbreak in style as Akihiro Hyodo sealed a 5-0 win over amateurs Fukushima United.
In the next round, JEF will play Kashima Antlers, who came from behind to beat Jubilo Iwata 3-1, Juninho wrapping up victory midway through the second half.
Relegated Gamba Osaka had Yasuhito Endo to thank for an 80th-minute winner in a 3-2 defeat of Machida Zeliva. They will face local rivals Cerezo Osaka, who hammered Shimizu S-Pulse 4-0.
Yokohama F. Marinos won 2-0 against Urawa Reds and will meet Nagoya Grampus, who beat second-division Roasso Kumamoto 5-2.
The semifinals are set for Dec. 29 and the showcase final wraps up the Japanese season on Jan. 1, with the winners guaranteed a berth in the 2013 Asian Champions League.