KUMAGAYA, SAITAMA PREFECTURE – Mu Kanazaki struck twice as Kashima Antlers advanced to the quarterfinals of the Emperor’s Cup with a 4-2 win over bitter J. League rivals Urawa Reds on Wednesday night.
Kanazaki, whose brace in the second leg of the J. League championship final against Reds earned Antlers a record eighth league title last year, tapped home an easy first in Kumagaya and added his second from the penalty spot.
Goals from Zlatan Ljubijankic and Yuki Muto pulled Reds level, but Atsutaka Nakamura put Kashima back in front before Shoma Doi’s header sealed the victory in the dying stages.
Kashima will play Vissel Kobe in the last eight on Oct. 25 after Kobe won 2-0 against second-division Matsumoto Yamaga.
“We allowed them (Reds) back into the match but all credit to the players for the way they upped their game,” said Kashima manager Go Oiwa.
Reds missed a great chance to take an early lead, Yoshiyuki Takagi unable to get on the end of Ljubijankic’s pass, and Kashima went in front from a similar move on seven minutes.
Doi fed Nakamura, who surged forward and slipped a pass sideways for Kanazaki to roll into an empty net.
Ljubijankic headed narrowly wide on 18 minutes before Leandro hammered into the side netting at the other end.
Leandro earned the penalty that Kanazaki converted in the 51st minute after the Brazilian had been tripped by Reds goalkeeper Tetsuya Enomoto.
Ljubijankic prodded home from close range to reduce the arrears and Muto made it all square 10 minutes later, when he controlled a pass from Wataru Endo with his chest and hammered the ball through the legs of Kashima keeper Hitoshi Sogahata.
But Kashima went back in front when Nakamura drove a shot in off the post from the edge of the area and Doi put the issue to bed, heading in Yuma Suzuki’s perfectly weighted cross.
“I was in the right position to shoot and was going for goal but I think we strangled ourselves the way we conceded those two goals,” said Nakamura.
In other games, all the J1 teams playing lower opposition advanced, with Omiya Ardija beating non-league Tsukuba University 2-0, Jubilo Iwata winning 1-0 against third division AC Nagano Parceiro and Cerezo Osaka edging second-division Nagoya Grampus 1-0.
Kawasaki Frontale hammered Shimizu S-Pulse 4-1, Kashiwa Reysol won 3-2 against Gamba Osaka, while Yokohama F Marinos edged Sanfrecce Hiroshima 3-2 in extra time.