Pedro Junior’s goal in the final seconds lifted Vissel Kobe to a 2-1 home win over Vegalta Sendai on Sunday and into the Nabisco Cup quarterfinals for the first time.
On the final day of first-round action, defending champions Kashiwa Reysol reached the final eight for the third straight year as Group A runnersup with a 4-1 victory at home over J1 stragglers Tokushima Vortis, while idle Gamba Osaka advanced as Group B winners. Urawa Reds, who had already clinched their quarterfinal spot, knocked Nagoya Grampus out with a 5-2 victory in Saitama.
Japan’s four AFC Champions League participants, Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Kawasaki Frontale, Yokohama F. Marinos and Cerezo Osaka will join the competition from the quarterfinal round, which will be played on Sept. 3 and Sept. 7. The draw will be held on Aug. 4
Vissel got off to a dream start with a first-minute goal from Ryota Morioka, only to have the visitors equalize 36 minutes later at Kobe’s Noevir Stadium through Keita Fujimura.
Pedro Junior’s goal in the third minute of second-half injury time lifted Vissel onto 12 points and a second-place finish in Group B. Gamba, who had already completed their group-stage games, finished ahead of Vissel on goal difference.
In other games, Sagan Tosu won 2-0 away at FC Tokyo, Omiya Ardija drew at home 0-0 Albirex Niigata and Kashima Antlers won at home 3-0 over Shimizu S-Pulse.