There were less thrills & spills in the third round of this year’s Emperor’s Cup, but once again it was the students of Tsukuba University that stole the headlines.
Tsukuba, vanquishers of J1 club Vegalta Sendai in the previous round, “hosted” J2 high-flyers Avispa Fukuoka in their third round match up. Tsukuba once again proved fearless in the face of professional opposition, and progressed to the next round on the back of two second half headers from rising star Seiya Nakano. Despite Avispa pulling a goal back with two minutes left on the clock, Tsukuba held on to knock its former student Masami Ihara out of the tournament. Immediately after this game, Jubilo Iwata, who have already secured the signing of Nakano when he graduates, announced that he would be joining them sooner than originally planned as a specially designated player.
J2 side Matsumoto Yamaga knocked out Massimo Ficcadenti’s Sagan Tosu at a rainy Alwin stadium. Second half strikes from Takaaki Shichi & Serginho saw off the J1 side and proved Yasuharu Sorimachi correct in his decision to change the entire starting eleven from the previous weekend’s league game. Meanwhile, Tosu have to wait until July 30th to get this defeat out of their system as that is when they’ll play their next league game.
Serginho (left) and Diego celebrate Serginho’s goal (photo from Yamaga FC)
Matsumoto are joined in the draw for the last 16 by prefectural neighbours Nagano Parceiro, after the oranges dumped out J2 side Fagiano Okayama thanks to long serving forward Yuki Sato’s 64th minute goal.
Nagano celebrate their win (photo from AC Nagano Parceiro)
Of the other lower league clubs in action, JFLers Vanraure Hachinohe will finish their game against Nagoya Grampus at a later date after their game was suspended in the 65th minute due to thunderstorms in the Nagoya area. Despite playing well, Vanraure were trailing 0-1 at the time after Ryo Nagai’s near post header in the 54th minute. The two teams will meet on August 2nd to play the remaining 25 minutes. Fukushima prefecture side Iwaki FC couldn’t repeat their giant-killing heroics of the last round as they succumbed to a 2-0 defeat at Shimizu S-Pulse. Despite going 0-1 down after only a minute, Iwaki put up a good fight, but ultimately couldn’t pull off another Tennouhai miracle. J3 side Azul Claro Numazu were beaten 4-2 by J1 side Yokohama F.Marinos at Mitsuzawa. Numazu were already 0-1 down heading towards half time, but two goals in the final two minutes of the half from Marinos captain Manabu Saito really killed the tie.
J1 leaders Cerezo Osaka prevailed over relegation haunted Albirex Niigata 3-2 after coming from behind in extra time thanks to goals from Ricardo Santos and Yasuki Kimoto. Kashima Antlers made light work of J2 side Montedio Yamagata, thumping them 5-0 at Kashima Stadium. Kashiwa Reysol weren’t as dominant in their tie against J2’s Oita Trinita, but second half goals from Brazilian pair Cristiano & Diego Oliveira secured their onward passage.
Goals from defender Fabio & Jin Izumisawa gave Gamba Osaka a 2-0 win at JEF United; Jubilo Iwata continued their recent excellent form by swatting aside Shonan Bellmare 4-1 at Shonan’s BMW Stadium – Kengo Kawamata & Kota Ueda amongst the goals for Hiroshi Nanami’s in-form side. Omiya Ardija made hard work of Ehime FC at a sparsely populated Ningineer Stadium in Ehime, Ataru Esaka scoring a 123rd minute winner to give the Squirrels a 3-2 win.
The other games all saw J1 sides triumph over J2 sides. Urawa Reds scraped past Roasso Kumamoto courtesy of Yoshiyuki Takagi’s goal in first half stoppage time; Sanfrecce Hiroshima recovered from a half time deficit to beat FC Gifu in Gifu – Masato Kudo and a Felipe Silva penalty enough to turn the game around for Hiroshima; Kawasaki Frontale powered past Gunma by a score of 4-0 and finally Vissel Kobe beat Zweigen Kanazawa but only after a brief scare. Vissel took the lead in the first half through Shuhei Otsuki, only for Kanazawa to equalizer via Masahiro Kaneko’s 64th minute leveler. Vissel’s quality finally showed through though, and goals from Keijiro Ogawa & Kazuma Watanabe put Nelsinho’s side through – but whether Nelsinho will be in charge for their last 16 game is very much in question.