This year's Emperor's Cup final is set after Ventforet Kofu and Sanfrecce Hiroshima triumphed in two thrilling semi-final ties on Wednesday.
J2 club Ventforet will continue their magical run in the competition after they toppled Kashima Antlers, 1-0. A 37th minute goal from Jimma Miyazaki sent the second division side on their way, with Niki Urakami hitting a fabulous ball over the top that found Miyazaki perfectly in stride behind the Kashima defense. Miyazaki took a great touch to bring the ball down, a second touch to round the goalkeeper and then his third put it in the back of the net.
With a goal in hand, Ventforet committed to defending and they did it with aplomb, successfully holding one the top flight’s best attacks scoreless.
When the referee blew the final whistle, Ventofret’s fans went wild, their side becoming the first lower division team since 2014 to make the Emperor’s Cup final.
In the other semi-final, Sanfrecce left it late, but ultimately did enough to get past Kyoto Sanga, 2-1, in extra-time. Hiroshima's Douglas Vieira converted from the spot in the second half, but Origbaajo Ismaila equalized for the home side to extend the match 30 more minutes.
It was going to take a moment of magic to win it and the Viola got just that when Ezequiel hit a blind backheel flick right into the path of an onrushing Nassim Ben Khalifa, whose clinical finish booked Sanfrecce’s spot in the final.
October 16th at Nissan Stadium in Yokohama will be a historic spectacle, with Sanfrecce aiming to lift their first Emperor's Cup in the J.League era after five runner's up appearances and Ventforet hoping to secure their first major honors after knocking off four J1 clubs.