Kashima Antlers beat Kawasaki Frontale 1-0 in the 2016 J.League Championship semi-final on Wednesday to advance to the final, where they will face Urawa Reds.
Despite limping into the title-deciding mini-tournament after a poor MEIJI YASUDA J1 League Second Stage campaign, it was Masatada Ishii’s men who earned a smash-and-grab victory.
Antlers hero Mu Kanazaki headed home the winner from Shuto Yamamoto’s cross in the 50th minute and the side held out under increasing pressure to triumph.
Japan’s most successful outfit will have the chance to win their first J.League title since 2009 against overall J1 League winners Reds when they clash in next Tuesday’s title-decider.
It is a heartbreaking end to the league season for Frontale, meanwhile, after their excellent start to the campaign, though Yahiro Kazama’s men are still in contention for the Emperor’s Cup.