Cerezo Osaka edge Kawasaki Frontale in Super Cup thriller

Cerezo Osaka bested Kawasaki Frontale in Saturday’s Fuji Xerox Super Cup, capturing the first trophy of the Japanese season with a 3-2 win at Saitama Stadium.

While the rematch of last year’s J.League YBC Levain Cup final didn’t start as dramatically, it needed just 48 minutes to reach the same score as Cerezo Osaka took a 2-0 lead thanks to goals by Hotaru Yamaguchi and Hiroshi Kiyotake, both assisted by ace striker Kenyu Sugimoto.

Frontale cut the deficit to 2-1 in the 51st minute when 2017 J.League MVP Yu Kobayashi scored from the penalty spot, but newly-arrived Cerezo striker Toshiyuki Takagi found the back of the net in the 78th minute to all but clinch the result.

Despite a stoppage time goal by Frontale returnee Yoshito Okubo, it was Cerezo who celebrated their third cup win in as many months.

“We didn’t have much time off (after the season) or much time to train, but all of the players kept their focus,” Cerezo manager Yoon Jong-hwan said after the match. “We demonstrated what we need to do over the course of the coming year.

“I don’t know how this year will turn out for us, but today wasn’t a bad starting point.”

Both clubs will quickly shift back to preparations for their upcoming AFC Champions League campaigns, with Frontale hosting Shanghai SIPG on February 13 and Cerezo traveling to Jeju United the following day.