East Asia Japan

Leandro Inspires Gasmen to J.League Cup Final

Brazilian striker Leandro was the standout performer for FC Tokyo on Wednesday night as he helped his team to a 2-0 win over Kawasaki Frontale at the Todoroki Athletics Stadium in the 2020 J.League Cup semifinal. Leandro scored a brace as the Gasmen dumped defending J.League Cup champions Kawasaki out of the competition to qualify for their first major cup final since the 2011 Emperor’s Cup.

The latest edition of the Tamagawa Clasico saw FC Tokyo travel to current J.League 1 leaders Kawasaki in a match that many saw as a walk in the park for the latter. Kawasaki had destroyed FC Tokyo 4-0 in the first Tamagawa Clasico of the season on July in the league and considering Kawasaki managed to achieve that result away from home, many would see Kawasaki repeating that feat at their own backyard. However, FC Tokyo crossed over the Tama River with revenge in mind and it was indeed revenge that they got on Wednesday.

Leandro, who was signed by FC Tokyo in pre-season from Kashima Antlers, scored a goal in each half to ensure a ticket to the J.League Cup final for the Gasmen, with his first one being an expertly-taken free-kick in the 14th minute. The 27-year old striker fired his free-kick from a very tight angle, with the shot making its way into the Kawasaki goal thanks to a huge deflection off Kawasaki goalie Jung Sung-ryong’s hand.

Kawasaki head coach Toru Oniki threw both Ryota Oshima and Kaoru Mitoma into the mix during half-time to chase the game, however Leandro once again worked his magic for FC Tokyo in the 62nd minute to double the Gasmen’s advantage. A free-kick for FC Tokyo was taken quickly by their goalkeeper Akihiro Hayashi from deep within the Gasmen’s area, which allowed Kenta Hasegawa’s men to mount a swift attack on the Kawasaki defense. The ball was not cleared far enough by a Kawasaki defender, allowing FC Tokyo to move Hayashi’s ball within the midfield and into Kawasaki territory. This culminated in Kensuke Nagai angling a low diagonal pass towards Leandro, who poked the ball above a diving Jung and into the Kawasaki goal.

Oniki introduced both Yu Kobayashi and Reo Hatate after Leandro’s second goal as Kawasaki attempted to salvage something out of the game, however FC Tokyo clung onto their lead tightly and ended the match as 2-0 winners – their passage to the final secured and their humiliation from earlier in the season well avenged.

FC Tokyo’s opponents in the 2020 J.League Cup final will be Kashiwa Reysol, with the newly-promoted side surviving a tense encounter at Yokohama F. Marinos’ NHK Spring Mitsuzawa Stadium. A first half goal from Tatsuya Yamashita was enough for Kashiwa as they ran out 1-0 winners over defending J1 champions Yokohama, and Nelsinho Baptista’s men in yellow are through to this year’s J.League Cup final.

Both FC Tokyo and Kashiwa are appearing in their third J.League Cup final, with both teams winning all two finals that they’ve played before. Kashiwa were J.League Cup champions in 1999 and 2013, while FC Tokyo triumphed in both 2004 and 2009. The two Greater Tokyo Area teams will clash in this year’s J.League Cup final on November 7th at the National Stadium in Tokyo.

Wednesday also saw a rescheduled J1 match being played out, between hosts Sagan Tosu and Gamba Osaka at the Ekimae Real Estate Stadium. Kazuma Watanabe scored his 99th and 100th J1 goals as his brace guided Gamba to a 2-1 victory over Tosu, with the win being Gamba’s fifth in a row – a result that saw them occupy 4th place in the J1 table. 34-year old Kazuma became only the 15th player to have scored 100 goals in the J1, with the Nagasaki-born players scoring goals for Yokohama, FC Tokyo, Vissel Kobe, and Gamba in his career so far.