SAITAMA – Urawa Reds exorcised their Emperor’s Cup ghosts with a fortuitous 1-0 extra-time win against second-division strugglers Ehime FC on Monday to book their spot in the fifth round.
Ehime wrecked Urawa’s chances of a domestic and continental treble with a stunning 2-0 win in the fourth round last year just days before Reds imploded to hand Kashima Antlers the J. League title on the final day of the season.
Ehime held firm in regulation time at Komaba Stadium, but Robson Ponte ensured there would be no repeat of its giant-killing act when he struck the decider from the penalty spot five minutes into the first extra period.
Urawa’s win set up a meeting with Yokohama F. Marinos, a 1-0 winner over Consadole Sapporo on Sunday, in the fifth round.
In the day’s other games, Kawasaki Frontale beat promotion-chasing Montedio Yamagata 3-1 and was joined in the last 16 by FC Tokyo, which edged Vegalta Sendai 2-1.
At Todoroki Stadium, Hidenori Ishii shrugged off marker Hiroyuki Taniguchi to give Yamagata a surprise early lead but Taniguchi made amends when he headed the equalizer on 19 minutes.
Kawasaki took control and Vitor Junior put the home side in front with an angled drive on the stroke of halftime, before Juninho capitalized on slack defending to set up the third for fellow Brazilian Renatinho in the 56th minute.
“It was my fault for the first goal so I was glad I could score. It was a great ball in from Juninho,” said Beijing Olympic midfielder Taniguchi.
Kawasaki will meet second-division champion and last season’s beaten Emperor’s Cup finalist Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the next round. Sanfrecce was the only club outside the top flight to advance from Sunday’s matches after a 1-0 win over Tokyo Verdy.
Sota Hirayama was the hero at Ajinomoto Stadium, the towering striker completing a brace in second-half stoppage time to give FC Tokyo a fifth-round tie against Albirex Niigata.
Holders Kashima Antlers scraped through on Sunday after overcoming Kokushikan University 3-0 on penalties after an entertaining 2-2 draw.
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