IWATA, Shizuoka Pref. – JEF United Chiba and Gamba Osaka drew their second-leg matches Saturday and successfully defended their leads from the first leg to book places in the semifinals of the Nabisco Cup.
JEF, which ran out the 3-2 winner in its first leg a week ago, played to a 2-2 draw at Jubilo Iwata while Gamba came from behind twice at home to draw with crosstown rival Cerezo Osaka by the same scoreline to secure a 5-2 aggregate win.
JEF and Gamba are aiming for their first title since the J. League’s inauguration in 1993. In the two leg semifinals on Aug. 31 and Oct. 5, JEF plays Urawa Reds or Shimizu S-Pulse and Gamba faces the winner of Sunday’s other quarterfinal between Yokohama F. Marinos and Omiya Ardija.
At Yamaha Stadium, Japan international striker Seiichiro Maki increased the advantage for JEF when he connected with a Satoru Yamagishi cross to head home the opening goal after 36 minutes.
Ryoichi Maeda equalized for Iwata from the penalty spot on the hour mark, only to see JEF’s deadball specialist Yuki Abe beat Japan goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi with a free kick five minutes later.
Kim Jin Kyu made it 2-2 in the 69th minute but the JEF defense held out in the face of massive pressure from the home side.
The day’s other clash saw Gamba fall behind just after eight minutes on a penalty from Ze Carlos at Expo Stadium before the home side replied with a strike from Brazilian compatriot Fernandinho.
With the aggregate result virtually out of its reach midway through the second half, Cerezo continued to chase the game and went ahead again in the 63rd minute through Tatsuya Furuhashi but an injury-time goal from Araujo helped Gamba avoid a home defeat.
Gamba advanced to the Nabisco Cup semis for the first time in three years. The final is scheduled for Nov. 5 at National Stadium.
Vissel loan signing
KOBE (Kyodo) Vissel Kobe has agreed on a loan deal for Czech forward Ivo Ulich of German Bundesliga side Borussia Moenchengladbach, the club said Saturday.
The contract for Ulich, 30, runs through January next year, Kobe said. The former Czech international has appeared in 120 matches in the German first division and scored 10 goals.