Stunning upsets headline new era of J.League YBC Levain Cup

Stunning upsets headline new era of J.League YBC Levain Cup

The second round of the J.League YBC Levain Cup delivered some stunners, as three lower-division clubs defeated Meiji Yasuda J1 League sides in a memorable night for the competition.

The expanded cup brought all J.League clubs into the competition for the first time and after V-Varen Nagasaki took down a J1 side last week, FC Ryukyu, AC Nagano Parceiro and Blaublitz Akita all followed suit this week.

J3’s FC Ryukyu pulled off arguably the biggest upset, taking down J1’s sixth-place team Gamba Osaka. Yu Tomidokoro scored a screamer to give Ryukyu the lead, then after Gamba equalized, Haruto Shirai raced in behind the defense before coolly finishing to deliver the match-winning goal in a famous night in Okinawa.

Nagano were this round’s comeback kids, overturning an early 2-0 deficit to beat Kyoto Sanga, 3-2. Third-division Nagano were two goals down before the half-hour mark, but Naoki Sanda and Takaya Kuroishi found the back of the net to equalize. Hayata Sugii then tallied in extra time, completing Nagano’s comeback and taking them into the next round.

Blaublitz Akita pulled a comeback of their own as Shota Aoki scored in the 74th minute to force extra time with J1’s Shonan Bellmare. The second-tier side then got a goal from Ren Komatsu in the 97th minute to knock out Bellmare and advance to the third round.

There was also another noteworthy cross-division upset in Toyama, where J2 leaders Shimizu S-Pulse lost on penalty kicks to hosts Kataller Toyama.

The new J.League YBC Levain Cup format is already delivering, with clubs up and down the pyramid authoring nights to remember. The clubs above have already made their marks, and now we look forward to what the next round has in store for this scintillating tournament.