Tense first legs leave J.League YBC Levain Cup semi-finals hanging in the balance

Tense first legs leave J.League YBC Levain Cup semi-finals hanging in the balance

The 2022 J.League YBC Levain Cup semi-finals are underway, with Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Urawa Reds taking slight advantages into what will surely be intense second-leg battles for a spot in the final.

Sanfrecce dominated home side Avispa Fukuoka from the start in their last-four encounter, but the Wasps fought back to salvage hope for the return fixture. Viola midfielder Takumu Kawamura continued his impressive month, scoring a brace on either side of Tsukasa Shiotani's header to jump out to a 3-0 advantage.

Avispa did not give up, though. Juanma scored on a gorgeous chip, then added another in stoppage time to bring the tie back to 3-2 and give them a chance heading into the second leg in Hiroshima.

The other semi-final started even faster, with Cerezo Osaka scoring just two minutes after kickoff to race out to an early lead. Satoki Uejo delighted the home crowd with a spectacular early strike and the Sakura appeared to be sitting pretty.

The rest of the match settled into a tough fight with both sides having opportunities, but only Urawa would break through. Yoshio Koizumi found the back of the net in the second half to bring the tie level at 1-1 and that’s how it would end, sending the second leg to Saitama with Urawa a home win away from the final.

The second legs will be played on Sunday, with the final 90 minutes deciding who will advance to the cup final on October 22nd.

Will Sanfrecce or Urawa build off their first leg performances and meet for the trophy, or will Avispa and Cerezo turn things around for their spots in the final? We’ll find out on Sunday!

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