J.League YBC Levain Cup Recap: Cerezo, Urawa, Sanfrecce, Avispa reach semi-finals

J.League YBC Levain Cup Recap: Cerezo, Urawa, Sanfrecce, Avispa reach semi-finals

The final four of the J.League YBC Levain Cup is set, with Cerezo Osaka, Urawa Reds, Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Avispa Fukuoka moving onward to battle for two spots in the final.

Cerezo won a wild tie with spectacular late dramatics to book their spot in the semi-finals. After a first leg 1-1 draw in Osaka, Frontale took control of the tie in the second leg after two goals from Marcinho. The clock ticked on and reached the 90th minute with Frontale on the verge of continuing their cup dreams, but that’s when the Sakura came alive.

First, Mutsuki Kato found the back of the net to bring Cerezo within one goal, but Frontale only had to see out stoppage time to advance. They would not, because in the sixth minute of added time, with their very last gasp, Hiroto Yamada scored and sent the Cerezo bench wild. The tie was level at 3-3, but Cerezo had the advantage on away goals and were moving onto the semi-finals.

Cerezo will play Urawa in the next round after the Reds took care of business at home against Nagoya Grampus in the second leg. The first 90 minutes played out to a 1-1 draw, but Urawa dominated in the return leg thanks to a first half brace from Atsuki Ito. Ataru Esaka added a late tally to wrap up a 4-1 win on aggregate.

Sanfrecce entered the second leg of their quarter-final tie against Yokohama F·Marinos with a 3-1 lead and then got an eighth minute goal from Nassim Ben Khalifa to stretch their advantage to 4-1 on aggregate. A red card to Ryotaro Tsunoda followed and with the league leaders down to 10 men, the tie was just about over.

Léo Ceará scored for Marinos to give the Tricolor hope, but Yuki Nogami answered right after for the Viola and Sanfrecce were on their way to the semi-finals, 5-2 on aggregate.

Sanfrecce will play Avispa Fukuoka in their semi-final tie after the Wasps stung Vissel Kobe 3-1 on aggregate. Fukuoka won the first leg, 2-1, in Kobe and added a goal from Lukian in the second leg to see out a comfortable victory.

The semi-finals will be played over two legs, on September 21 and September 25.