The J.LEAGUE YBC Levain CUP semifinals have reached the halfway point, and Nagoya Grampus and Cerezo Osaka are in a strong position to book their spots in the final.

Nagoya took advantage of home field in the first leg by jumping all over F.C.Tokyo from the first whistle, pressuring the visitors immediately. T ehosts struck for their first goal just 17 minutes in, when Mateus’ excellent pressure won Nagoya the ball in the box before Sho Inagaki squared the ball for Yoichiro Kakitani to finish.

On the other side of halftime, Yasuki Kimoto doubled the Nagoya lead when he won the fight for a free ball and poked it into the back of the net. Adaílton scored in the third minute of stoppage time to get Tokyo a crucial away goal and they’d have been happy to take that and a one-goal deficit back home for the second leg, but Mateus ensured they wouldn’t. The Brazilian received a pass at the top of the box, created an angle for himself then clinically tucked the ball inside the side netting to deliver Grampus a 3-1 victory.

Over in Saitama, things started well for the home side as well after Ryosuke Yamanaka’s early cross found Kasper Junker and the Dane buried his shot on the full volley.

Cerezo wanted to get out of the first leg with either a result or an away goal, and they managed both thanks to Hiroto Yamada’s 66th-minute strike. The 21-year-old played the role of hero, scoring the equalizer that sends the tie back to Osaka with the Sakura simply needing any win or a scoreless win at home to advance to the final.