Soccer

Kashima beats Kofu to move into Emperor's Cup semifinals

Kyodo

Recent Asian Champions League winners Kashima Antlers kept the good times rolling in the Emperor’s Cup quarterfinals on Wednesday, beating J. League second-division team Ventforet Kofu 1-0.

The win sets up a final-four meeting against Urawa Reds on Dec. 5, with Kashima hoping to add another piece of silverware this season by winning its first Emperor’s Cup title since pulling off a league cup double in 2016.

Antlers were the more dangerous team in the first 45 minutes at Yamanashi Chuo Bank Stadium, closing the half with seven shots to Ventforet’s three, but it took until midway through the second for either team to find the net.

Shoma Doi scored what would prove to be the winner in the 77th minute, the 26-year-old netting for the third time in the Emperor’s Cup this season in addition to six league goals.

Ryota Nagaki found his teammate Doi in the penalty area and the midfielder worked the ball onto his right foot before hitting a hard shot that glanced off the underside of Kofu goalkeeper Hiroki Oka’s crossbar.

After falling behind, Ventforet threw caution to the wind and quickly won a good chance, but Brazilian Diego failed to convert. Ventforet, who finished ninth on this season’s J2 league table, made a few more forays forward in search of an equalizer but were frustrated on each occasion.

Urawa booked its place in the semis with a 2-0 win over Sagan Tosu in October, the same night Velgata Sendai and J2 team Montedio Yamagata set up their last-four matchup.

Tuesday’s meeting between Kashima and Ventforet was scheduled apart from the other quarterfinals to allow Antlers to play out their ACL campaign.

In December, Kashima will face Mexican first-division side Guadalajara in their FIFA Club World Cup opener.