HIROSHIMA – Hisato Sato scored twice as reigning J. League champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima seized control of their Nabisco Cup semifinal tie with a 2-0 first-leg home win against holders Kashiwa Reysol on Thursday night.
Sato struck either side of the break at Edion Stadium to put Hiroshima in the driver’s seat ahead of Sunday’s second leg, while goals from Koki Yonekura, Takashi Usami and Patric gave Gamba Osaka a 3-1 win over Kawasaki Frontale in the other first leg at Expo Stadium.
Kashiwa started brightly and had an early goal from Eduardo ruled out for offside, before Leandro had a shot deflected just wide.
But it was the home side that broke the deadlock shortly before halftime with its first clear chance, Sato finishing first time with his left foot after a superb pass from Yojiro Takahagi.
Kashiwa’s hopes of a comeback took a blow when Eduardo was handed a second yellow card and sent off in the 48th minute and the second goal from former J. League Player of the Year Sato arrived two minutes later, with Takahagi once again the provider.
Takahagi lofted a pass over the head of Kashiwa defender Hirofumi Watanabe and Sato showed great technique to strike from the edge of the box and give Reysol goalkeeper Kazushige Kirihata no chance.
Masato Kudo went close to pulling one back for Reysol late on but was denied by a crucial block from Hiroshima goalkeeper Takuto Hayashi.
The final will be held at Saitama Stadium 2002 on Nov. 8