Urawa Reds were crowned winners of the 2016 J.League YBC Levain Cup following their 5-4 penalty shootout victory over Gamba Osaka in Saturday’s final at a packed Saitama Stadium.
The clash had ended in a 1-1 stalemate after 120 minutes with Gamba starting brightly, taking the lead in the 17th minute when Ademilson deftly dribbled past the defender to bury the ball past goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa.
The Reds found their composure at half time, creating numerous chances in the second half and finally equalising when Tadanari Lee, who would later be named the MVP of the final, scored from Yosuke Kashiwagi’s corner kick just moments after coming on as a substitute.
After neither side was able to break the deadlock by the end of regulation or in 30 minutes of extra time, Nishikawa came up big again to block Gamba defender Hiroto Goya’s penalty kick, allowing the Reds to claim a 5-4 win in penalty kicks in front of a jubilant crowd.
The win gives Urawa Reds their first Cup title since 2003 and their first major domestic title since the 2006 J.League Division 1.
Gamba will be disappointed to have finished runners-up in a second straight final, after winning the 2014 edition against Sanfrecce Hiroshima.