SAITAMA – Cerezo Osaka captured their first major domestic title on Saturday with a 2-0 win over Kawasaki Frontale in the final of the YBC Levain Cup.
Japan international Kenyu Sugimoto opened the scoring with an early strike at Saitama Stadium before Brazilian midfielder Souza netted deep into second-half stoppage time to seal victory for Yoon Jong-hwan’s side.
Defeat for Frontale saw them finish as League Cup runner-ups for a fourth time.
Cerezo needed less than a minute to open the scoring, Sugimoto taking advantage of a defensive blunder by Eduardo to fire past Frontale goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong.
“We had spoken about trying to finish the first chance that came our way so I am glad I could take it,” said man of the match Sugimoto.
Kawasaki nearly hit back on 17 minutes but Jung’s Cerezo counterpart and fellow South Korean Kim Jin-hyeon produced a smart save to keep out a low drive from Elsinho.
Kengo Nakamura perhaps could have done better with a shot that flew wide two minutes to halftime and Yu Kobayashi also had a decent chance but his tame finish early in the second half was easy for Kim to gather.
Kawasaki went on to dominate the second half but Souza put the game to bed when he drove inside the right-hand post in the second minute of injury time.
Sugimoto was making his first appearance of the season in the Levain Cup, a competition clubs generally use in the earlier rounds to give younger players and substitutes fringes of the team game time.
“Today was my first appearance in the Levain Cup,” he said. “I wanted to take responsibility and carry on my back the feelings of my teammates that have played until now and the ones that weren’t on the bench.”