SAITAMA – Holders Urawa Reds were knocked out in the quarterfinals of the J. League Cup after losing to Cerezo Osaka on away goals after a 2-2 aggregate draw Sunday.
Matej Jonjic opened the scoring early for Cerezo in the second leg at Saitama Stadium, nodding in a 10th-minute header from a Yusuke Maruhashi corner.
It was Maruhashi’s turn in the 44th minute, when he beautifully curled a free kick into the top corner to give the visitors a commanding two-goal halftime lead.
With the first leg at Yanmar Stadium ending 0-0, Urawa now needed to win the game and started the second half brightly with a glancing header by Yuki Muto on 48 minutes.
Shinzo Koroki restored parity after 71 minutes to offer Reds hope, but a third goal just wasn’t meant to be as Cerezo held on for the draw to reach their first semifinals, where they will face local rivals Gamba Osaka on Oct. 4 and 8.
“We won a free kick on a good part of the pitch,” Maruhashi said. “I’m glad I put it away. We knew they’d come out aggressive in the second half but we managed to hold the fort until the end.”
Gamba made it to the last four for the fourth successive season after beating Vissel Kobe 2-0 at home behind second-half goals from Shun Nagasawa and Jin Izumisawa, following a 0-0 first-leg draw.
Gamba and Cerezo were joined in the last four by Vegalta Sendai, who lost 3-2 away to Kashima Antlers but went through 5-4 on aggregate.
Sendai also advanced to the semis for the first time and will play Kawasaki Frontale, who thrashed FC Tokyo 5-1 away thanks to Hiroyuki Abe’s hat trick and an Elsinho double, going through 7-1 on aggregate.
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