An extra-time goal from Tadanari Lee allowed Urawa Reds grind out a 1-0 victory over Kashiwa Reysol in the Emperor’s Cup semi-final and will now meet Gamba Osaka in the final.
The MEIJI YASUDA J1 League first stage winners always looked the more likely to score, but despite the livewire performance of Takahiro Sekine rued poor finishing either side of the break.
Going into extra time with the score at 0-0 after 90 minutes, the introduction of Lee proved a masterstroke as he bagged the winner with three minutes left on the clock with a penalty shootout beckoning.
Lee - who has been instrumental in the Reds’ Emperor’s Cup climb so far - nodded in Tsukasa Umesaki’s cross to give his side the breakthrough, with the late nature of the goal giving Reysol no time to prepare a comeback.
Mihailo Petrovic’s men are therefore through to the final at Ajinomoto Stadium on New Year’s Day, where they face off with old rivals Gamba for their only remaining chance at silverware this season.