Defending champion KashiEma Antlers took a major stride toward defending their Nabisco Cup title with a 5-1 thrashing of Nagoya GramEpus Eight in the first leg of quarterfinal matches on Wednesday night.

Japan midfielder Koji NaEkata grabbed a brace inside 11 second-half minutes as his side all but guaranteed a meeting with either newly crowned J. League first-stage winner Yokohama F. Marinos or archrival Jubilo Iwata in the semifinals.

Kashima and Shimizu S-Pulse received byes into the last eight due to their brief inEvolvement in the Asian ChamEpions League.

A 20th-minute goal from Yasumasa Nishino gave 10-man Iwata a slight advantage heading into the second leg Aug. 24 as Masaaki YanagishEita’s men ran out 1-0 winners at International Stadium YoEkohama. Iwata had AlekEsander Zivkovic sent off after just 18 minutes.

Elsewhere, Toru Chishima came off the bench to snatch a last-minute equalizer as the Urawa Reds drew 2-2 at home to FC Tokyo, while South KoErean star Ahn Jung Hwan found the target as Shimizu was held to a 1-1 draw at home to Gamba Osaka.

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