Kashima Antlers beat Shimizu S-Pulse 2-1 to win the Emperor’s Cup yesterday and clinch a place in the AFC Champions League.
It was Kashima’s fourth Cup victory, following their triumphs in 1997, 2000 and 2007, repeating their performance against Shimizu in the 2000 final.
“It was a very difficult season for us as we had been expected to win the J-League title for a record fourth straight time and we failed,” Kashima’s Brazilian coach Oswaldo Oliveira said.
“It was very disappointing that we couldn’t. As I said after the semi-finals, we had so many drawn games in the league competition, although we had so many chances to score,” he said.
Kashima controlled the first half with Shinzo Koroki narrowly missing in the 14th minute.
They took the lead on 26 minutes when skipper Mitsuo Ogasawara sent the ball into the box from a corner on the left for Brazilian midfielder Fellype Gabriel to head home.
Shimizu, who managed only a couple of attempts on goal in the first half, started to take the initiative as Japanese international striker Shinji Okazaki signaled his intent with his first shot.
Norwegian forward Frode Johnsen broke through a Kashima offside trap to hit the ball from the edge of the area over hapless goalkeeper Hitoshi Sogahata in the 59th minute, evening the score.
However, substitute midfielder Masashi Motoyama came to the rescue of Kashima, fending off Shimizu attacks and allowing forward Shinzo Koroki a shot which he hit off the left post.
In the 77th minute, Australian defender Eddy Bosnar pushed Ogasawara down to give a free-kick to Kashima just outside the penalty area, which Takuya Nozawa struck home for the decider.
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