Takashi Usami was pivotal as Gamba Osaka smashed three goals past Sanfrecce Hiroshima without reply in Tuesday’s Emperor’s Cup semi-final.
The striker was back to his best in the 3-0 result that sends Kenta Hasegawa’s men to the final against Urawa Reds, where they will attempt to defend their trophy on New Year’s Day.
Usami got the scoring underway as early as the seventh minute to give Gamba the lead against the side that beat them to the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League crown.
The 23-year-old, who had been named to the J.League Best XI for 2015, then halted Sanfrecce’s fightback with his and his team’s second goal of the afternoon in the 74th minute.
With the result all but sealed, it fell to substitute Shun Nagasawa to put the icing on the cake and make it 3-0 in the first minute of added time, sealing an emphatic victory that puts them in contention to end their season with silverware.