Clinical edge was the difference for Kashima Antlers as a brace from Mu Kanazaki lifted them to a 4-1 win over Vissel Kobe in the second leg of the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup semi-final.
Antlers’ landslide win settled their affair 6-2 on aggregate and sees them progress to the final against holders Gamba Osaka, although the scoreline failed to disguise a valiant display from visiting Vissel on Sunday.
Atsutaka Nakamura fired home from inside the box in the 16th minute to add to the 2-1 advantage Masatada Ishii’s men took into their home tie, but Asahi Masuyama soon turned his man to lay the ball on a plate for Kazuma Watanabe to net Vissel’s temporary equaliser.
From there, the visitors applied constant pressure but still could not turn the tide despite proving a genuine menace to their hosts’ rearguard for the remainder of the game.
Nelsinho’s men were eventually made to pay when Kanazaki fired home Antlers’ second of the afternoon from a rebound, after Shuhei Akasaki saw his initial effort parried by Kenta Tokushige.
Kanazaki again found himself with the goal at his mercy when he latched onto a hashed Vissel clearance, the 26-year-old’s effort deflected by the last man on the line into the net.
Resistance had mostly crumbled by the time Caio burst into the box, beating two players before lashing his shot into the bottom right corner and leave nothing to chance.
Antlers now have the chance to add a record sixth Nabisco Cup to their trophy haul, when they meet Gamba in the final at Saitama Stadium at the end of October.