• Kyodo

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J. League second-stage leaders Kashima Antlers overpowered third-division FC Ryukyu 3-1 on Wednesday night to advance to the third round of the Emperor’s Cup.

Yuta Toyokawa celebrated his 21st birthday by giving Kashima the lead with a fabulous free kick before Shuto Yamamoto put Antlers in control with the second on 31 minutes. Ryukyu pulled one back through Keita Tanaka, but substitute Taro Sugimoto sealed victory with a late third for the home side.

Kashima, which reached the semifinals of the Nabisco Cup on Sunday, will play J2 side Mito Hollyhock in a local derby the next round.

“It was a hard game but we scored three goals and I am glad we have made it to the next round,” Antlers manager Masatada Ishii said. “I told the players at halftime that getting a third goal would be the key but they did well to get one.”

Ryukyu nearly stunned Kashima with less than a minute on the clock, Antlers goalkeeper Akihiro Sato pulling off a reflex save to touch a shot from former Gamba Osaka striker Satoshi Nakayama onto the post.

But Kashima took the lead on 18 minutes when Toyokawa’s free kick cleared the wall and crashed in off the left-hand post, giving Ryukyu ‘keeper Taisuke Konno no chance.

“I want to deliver a result at any cost and I am happy I could score,” said Toyokawa. “I am glad I practiced free kicks. It is the first time to play in a match on my birthday and I am happy I have contributed to the win.”

Toyokawa also had a hand in the second, Ryukyu failing to deal with his low cross into the box, before the ball eventually fell to Yamamoto to tap in at the far post.

Tanaka pulled one back for Ryuku from the penalty spot in the 38th minute, smashing home after he had been brought down by Sato.

But he was sent off for his second bookable offense with 15 minutes left and Sugimoto wrapped up the win for Antlers in the 81st minute, rattling in a shot off the post from just outside the area.

In other games involving top-flight sides, Tatsuya Tanaka scored twice to power Albirex Niigata to a 4-0 win over third-division Blaublitz Akita, and Kazuma Watanabe also bagged a brace as Vissel Kobe hammered J3 club Nagano Parceiro 5-0.

But Nagoya Grampus and Shimizu S-Pulse were both dumped out of the competition after defeats to third-division opposition. Grampus went down 1-0 in Nagoya against Machida Zelvia, Koji Suzuki grabbing the winner in second-half injury time, while S-Pulse crashed 4-2 at home to Fujieda MYFC, Tsugutoshi Oishi and Yuichiro Edamoto both scoring twice for Fujieda.

Shintaro Shimada earned second-division Roasso Kumamoto a 1-0 win against third-division Gainare Tottori.

Meanwhile, the Japan Football Association said that the remainder of the game abandoned in the second half because of rain on Sunday between Yokohama F. Marinos and MIO Biwako Shiga will be played at Nissan Stadium on Oct. 11.

The game will restart at the time it was abandoned, 28:16 into the second half with the score tied 1-1, with the same lineups on the pitch.

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