• Kyodo


Second-division Ventforet Kofu on Saturday advanced to the quarterfinals of the Levain Cup with a 3-2 aggregate playoff victory over the Urawa Reds.

A 27th-minute goal from Kazuki Kozuka secured the result despite Urawa winning the second-leg match at Saitama Stadium 2-1, thanks to a first-half brace from striker Shinzo Koroki.

The only J2 side remaining in the league cup tournament, Ventforet came into the match with a two-goal advantage after winning the first leg 2-0 at home last Saturday, with Kozuka also providing a goal in that game.

Gamba Osaka, Yokohama F. Marinos and Shonan Bellmare also booked their passage to the quarterfinals Saturday with aggregate victories in the first knockout stage.

A draw will be held to determine the matchups for the quarterfinals, which will also involve Japan’s four sides from this year’s Asian Champions League.

At Yamaha Stadium, Hwang Ui-jo’s hat trick lifted Gamba past Jubilo 3-2 in the second leg and 4-2 on aggregate. The 25-year-old South Korean scored the only goal in their first-leg encounter.

At Noevir Stadium, Yokohama F. Marinos held Vissel Kobe to a 1-1 draw, advancing to the quarterfinals with a 5-3 aggregate win. Hugo Viera scored for the visitors in the 66th minute, canceling out Naoyuki Fujita’s first-half opener.

A 69th-minute strike from Ryunosuke Noda ensured quarterfinal action for Shonan Bellmare despite a 3-1 second-leg loss away to Vegalta Sendai.

Yasuhiro Hiraoka, Takuma Nishimura and Hiroaki Okuno scored for the home side, but it wasn’t enough to overhaul Bellmare, who prevailed 4-3 on aggregate on the strength of their 3-0, first-leg win.

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