FC Tokyo and Cerezo Osaka booked their spots in the quarterfinals of the J. League Cup with second-leg home wins in the group stage playoffs on Wednesday night.
Tokyo beat Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-0, Sei Muroya grabbing the winner with a superb second-half strike to send the Gasmen through 2-0 on aggregate. League-leading Cerezo beat Consadole Sapporo by the same score thanks to Takaki Fukumitsu’s header and advanced 3-0 overall.
Tokyo, which placed second in Group A and Cerezo, second in Group B, will join group winners Vegalta Sendai and Vissel Kobe in the two-leg quarterfinals (Aug. 30 and Sept. 3), as well as four Asian Champions League participants; Urawa Reds, Kawasaki Frontale, Kashima Antlers and Gamba Osaka.
The draw for the last eight will take place next Monday.
At Ajinomoto Stadium, Tokyo started brightly and nearly took the lead after 11 minutes, with Shoya Nakajima forcing Hiroshima goalkeeper Hirotsugu Nakabayashi to turn his shot around the post with his fingertips.
Masayuki Yamada then headed against the post from the resultant corner taken on the right by Nakajima, who again went close when he fizzed a shot just over the cross bar.
Tokyo finally took the lead in the 64th minute, as Muroya made space for himself and rifled a 20-meter effort into the top right-hand corner.
“If I am honest I wasn’t aiming to score but space just opened up and presented me with a chance so I hit it and it went in,” said Muroya.
“It (the goal) was down to the support I got from my teammates and I am grateful for that.”
Hiroshima was playing its first game under new coach Jan Jonsson, who has been tasked with getting the three-time league champion out of the relegation zone after Hajime Moriyasu’s stunning resignation on July 4.
Fukumitsu scored the lone goal at Kincho Stadium, getting on the end of Daichi Akiyama’s cross to head in at the far post.
Both Hiroshima and Sapporo finished third in their respective groups.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.