If the upcoming 2020 J.League Cup final between FC Tokyo and Kashiwa Reysol on November 7th was to become the main performance, then Wednesday’s J.League 1 clash between the two sides was the dress rehearsal for said performance. Both FC Tokyo and Kashiwa lock horns in the former’s rescheduled J1 tie at the Ajinomoto Stadium, however it was Kashiwa who managed to impress in the rehearsal, thumping the hosts 3-1 with Brazilian striker Cristiano bagging himself a brace.
Kashiwa were on a two-match losing streak as they made the short trip from Chiba Prefecture to Tokyo, while FC Tokyo are determined to not only keep their continental dreams alive for next season, but also prepare themselves for the resumption of the 2020 AFC Champions League East Zone group stages in Qatar on mid-November. However, it was Kashiwa who showed more intent on Wednesday’s J.League Cup final rehearsal, taking the lead in the 28th minute thanks to Ataru Esaka acting quickly to a Hayato Nakama shot being rebounded away by FC Tokyo goalkeeper Go Hatano.
The men in yellow then made it 2-0 after the restart, with usual danger man Michael Olunga turning from scorer to provider for this occasion. The Kenya international crossed the ball towards longtime Kashiwa servant Cristiano, who used his first touch to slot the ball past Hatano in the 47th minute.
Two minutes after Kashiwa had doubled their lead, FC Tokyo managed to pull one back thanks to Adailton, however all hopes of a Gasmen comeback were dashed in the 75th minute. Once again Olunga showed that he’s not only capable of scoring goals but also creating them, feeding Cristiano with a through ball from the midfield. The Brazilian easily beat his marker before firing a powerful shot that went past Hatano, effectively sealing Kashiwa’s three points.
The 3-1 defeat left FC Tokyo stranded in 4th place, just a point off Osaka duo Gamba in 2nd and Cerezo in 3rd. However, due to FC Tokyo’s ACL commitments, the Gasmen had played significantly more than their Kansai rivals with 28 games to their belt. Gamba and Cerezo, on the other hand, had only played 24 and 25 games respectively, thus giving them the opportunity to pull themselves further from FC Tokyo.
Despite this setback, Kenta Hasegawa’s Gasmen will have the chance of avenging Wednesday’s defeat in November 7th’s J.League Cup final at the National Stadium, where they will once again face off against Kashiwa.
Wednesday’s other rescheduled matches saw Japan’s other ACL representatives earning contrasting results, with Vissel Kobe finally ending their winless run by beating last-placed Vegalta Sendai 3-2 at the Yurtec Stadium in Sendai, while Yokohama F. Marinos succumbed to a 3-1 defeat at Sanfrecce Hiroshima.