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Osako hat trick helps Kashima defend Suruga Bank Championship

Kyodo

Japan striker Yuya Osako scored a hat-trick as Nabisco Cup holders Kashima Antlers defended the Suruga Bank Championship with a 3-2 win over Copa Sudamericana champions Sao Paulo of Brazil on Wednesday night.

Osako blew a chance to make it 3-1 from the penalty spot and Sao Paulo pulled level at 2-2 with 15 minutes left, but he made amends when he turned in Gaku Shibasaki’s shot deep into injury time to win it for the J. League heavyweights.

It was the fourth straight time the Nabisco Cup champions have won the competition, following FC Tokyo in 2010, Jubilo Iwata in 2011 and Kashima last year.

“Gaku did all the hard work and it was just a case of me putting it away,” Osako said of his first goal. “On the plus side we won the title but if I had scored from the penalty spot it would have made things a bit easier for us.”

Sao Paulo made a lively start and Kashima goalkeeper Hitoshi Sogahata reacted quickly to close down Ademilson on 17 minutes, before Osako just failed to connect cleanly with Shibsaki’s cross from the left.

But Osako got a second bite at the cherry and opened the scoring midway through the first half, receiving a Shibasaki pass, beating Douglas and Rogerio Ceni and taking the ball on his shoulder before sweeping into an empty net.

Osako put Kashima in the driver’s seat with his second goal shortly before halftime when he met Juninho’s pass and volleyed in at the near post.

Santos nearly pulled one back at the start of the second period when substitute Silvinho stung Sogahata’s palms from a tight angle and then flashed a header wide on 56 minutes.

The visitors finally made their pressure pay in the 58th when Ganso unleashed a fierce drive which Soghata got a hand to but could not prevent from nestling in the bottom left-hand corner of the net.

Osako missed a glorious chance to make it 3-1 when he missed a twice-taken penalty moments later.

He had his first effort saved by Rogerio Ceni after he had been brought down in the box by Silvinho, but the referee ordered the kick to be retaken, sparking furious protests from the Brazilians.

But the striker could not keep the second spot kick down and blazed over the bar.

That looked to have proved costly as Aloisio smash Ganso’s pass into an empty net to level on 75 minutes, the latter needing medical treatment after a collision with a stanchion on the left-hand side of the net left him with a bleeding forehead.

But Osako had the last word with the winner in the third minute of time added on.