The 2022 J.League YBC Levain Cup resumed play over the weekend with the all-important play-off stage - four two-legged ties for spots in the quarter-finals of the tournament.
Nagoya Grampus stole headlines from the weekend’s matches, registering a 6-1 first-leg victory against Kyoto Sanga. Sho Inagaki gave the cup holders an early lead before a red card late in the first half reduced Sanga to 10 men. From then on, it was all Grampus, with Inagaki adding a second, Mateus scoring a brace of his own, and Yuki Soma curling in a fantastic free kick in a dominant victory.
Sanfrecce Hiroshima also had a strong first leg, going away to Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo and winning by a score of 3-0. Shunki Higashi started the Viola off right, then Júnior Santos scored a pair in the second half to wrap up an excellent showing that has Sanfrecce on the verge of a quarter-final appearance.
Avispa Fukuoka ran out surprising winners against Kashima Antlers, topping the J1 contenders at home, 1-0. Yuya Yamagishi scored the lone goal to give Avispa a leg up as they get ready for their trip to Kashima for the second 90 minutes.
Cerezo Osaka defended home turf, walking away with a 1-0 win against Shonan Bellmare thanks to a late Koji Toriumi tally. Our cameras took in all the action behind the scenes, which you can check out on TikTok.
The second legs will be played this coming weekend and set the quarter-final field, with the four play-off stage winners joining the top four teams who participated in the AFC Champions League - Kawasaki Frontale, Yokohama F·Marinos, Vissel Kobe and Urawa Reds.