KASHIMA, IBARAKI – Kashima Antlers quietly but assuredly kept themselves in the hunt for the J-League and Emperor’s Cup double as Toninho Cerezo’s side reached the round of 16 with a 2-1 win over Kyoto Sanga on Monday.
Second-half goals from Yasushi Endo and Davi fueled Kashima past Kyoto, who pulled one back with a quarter-hour left through Shigeru Yokotani but just fell short of scoring an upset.
Despite the win, Cerezo was not happy with Antlers’ performance, tearing into his team before the home fans over the loudspeakers after the game.
Kashima, who are fourth in J1 only three points out of first place, host third-place Urawa Reds in a crucial league contest on Saturday that could make or break their championship chances.
“We were terrible. I thought we had an awful game,” Cerezo said. “We need to do a much, much better job of trying to take the initiative.”
“Our opponents deserved at least a draw for the way they played. The players who were on the pitch today are not the players I know. At this rate, we will lose against Reds.”
Endo put the hosts on the scoreboard in the 54th minute with a header from a left-wing cross by Juninho before Davi nodded one in of his own seven minutes past the hour.
Sanga, though, would not go away, making it 2-1 through Yokotani and continuing to pepper the Kashima goal with shot after shot before the final whistle rescued Antlers.
In other third-round action, Shimizu’s Toshiyuki Takagi scored twice over the last five minutes, the second of which he struck on the last touch of the game in S-Pulse’s 3-2 home win against Zweigen Kanazawa.
It was the Japan Football League’s Kanazawa who opened the scoring after 20 minutes through Shinya Awatari.
Genki Omae equalized in first-half injury time, and Takagi thought he had won it with his first goal of the afternoon in the 90th minute.
But Kazuhiro Sato quickly restored parity in the next minute, Kanazawa appearing to have invited extra time. Yet Takagi reestablished Shimizu’s lead in the 95th minute as Afshin Ghotbi’s side heaved a huge sigh of relief.
Sanfrecce Hiroshima safely advanced with a 2-0 victory at home over Roasso Kumamoto.
The draw for the last 16 will be held Sunday.