Kashima Antlers eliminated Emperor’s Cup surprise package Honda FC on Wednesday, reaching the semifinals of the tournament with a 1-0 win after Shoma Doi struck midway through the second half.
Having already knocked out reigning champions Urawa Reds in a 2-0 upset on Sept. 25, Honda FC arrived at Kashima Stadium looking to bounce another J. League first-division heavyweight from the tournament.
But the J1 leaders made sure the Cinderella side, which plays in the fourth-tier Japan Football League, would go no further than the last eight thanks to Doi’s headed winner in the 65th minute.
Under tight marking, Antlers midfielder Yasushi Endo sent an in-swinging cross into the center of the box to Doi, who glanced an angled header past Honda FC keeper Fuma Shirasaka.
Despite the gulf between the teams, Honda FC took the fight to the five-time Emperor’s Cup champions and created opportunities to steal the match.
They came within inches of an equalizer with seven minutes left when midfielder Toshiki Sasaki won an aerial battle in the area but sent his header into the upright.
In other quarterfinals, Vissel Kobe beat visiting Oita Trinita 1-0 after Hotaru Yamaguchi netted early in the second half.
At Ekimae Real Estate Stadium, Junior Dutra sent Shimizu S-Pulse into the semifinals after scoring in the 15th minute for a 1-0 win over Sagan Tosu.
In a battle of second-division sides, V-Varen Nagasaki beat visiting Ventforet Kofu 2-1 on first-half goals from Masakazu Yoshioka and Ryo Niizato.