The final four of the Emperor’s Cup is set! Kawasaki Frontale, who sit atop the MEIJI YASUDA J1 LEAGUE table, lead the way as they chase a second consecutive league and Emperor’s Cup double, but it will not be easy. All three of the other teams in the semifinals dominated their quarterfinal ties, keeping clean sheets and scoring multiple goals to make clear they too are serious challengers for the trophy.
Kawasaki Frontale 3, Kashima Antlers 1
Frontale dominated from the start, making clear that they have every intention of taking home the cup again. A 32nd minute goal by Marcinho was followed by strikes from Reo Hatate and Yasuto Wakizaka to put the holders 3-0 up on a very good Kashima side. It was a statement performance from Frontale, which could not be diminished by Ryotaro Araki’s 90th minute goal.
Gamba Osaka 0, Urawa Reds 2
Urawa’s quest to become the first professional club to win the Emperor’s Cup eight times is alive and well after a comprehensive performance in Osaka. Kasper Junker scored just 10 minutes after kickoff and Takahiro Sekine added a second before the break to put Urawa well in front. From there they defended with ease to book their spot in the semi-finals.
Nagoya Grampus 0, Cerezo Osaka 3
Three days before they meet in the J.LEAGUE YBC Levain CUP Final, Cerezo sent Grampus a big message with a thumping in Nagoya. Koji Toriumi scored just after the half-hour mark and Tiago Pagnussat doubled the lead six minutes later. By the time Adam Taggart scored in the 62nd minute, the match was done. Cerezo had walked into Nagoya and torn up the vaunted Grampus defense, not only creeping closer to Emperor’s Cup glory, but also putting themselves on the front foot heading into this weekend’s cup final.
Júbilo Iwata 0, Oita Trinita 2
Júbilo’s surprise run to the last eight is over. The last lower-division club standing fell to Trinita, but they did not go down without a fight. Júbilo held Trinita for more than an hour and had a couple chances of their own to go ahead, giving them hopes of extending their dream run to the semi-finals, but Shun Nagasawa broke through to put the J1 side in front. A stoppage time goal by Kazuki Fujimoto put the match to bed and sent Trinita to the final four, where they will hope to move onto their first-ever Emperor’s Cup final.
The semi-finals of the competition will see Urawa Reds face Cerezo Osaka, while Kawasaki Frontale and Oita Trinita will square off on the other half of the draw.