East Asia Japan

Frontale Made Reysol Pay the Penalty in Emperor’s Cup Win

Kawasaki Frontale put their disappointing league campaign behind them as they clinched the 2023 Emperor’s Cup after edging out Kashiwa Reysol 8-7 in a tense penalty shootout following a goalless 120 minutes at the National Stadium in Tokyo on Saturday night.

The 2023 J.League 1 season was the first time since 2012 that saw Kawasaki finish outside the top five, a very disappointing season by their very high standards. However, Toru Oniki’s men had a shot at redemption as they took on a Kashiwa side who finished second last in the recently-concluded league campaign for this season’s Emperor’s Cup title on Saturday.

Surprisingly, it was strugglers Kashiwa who had the upper-hand throughout the match’s first half, keeping Kawasaki on the ropes as the men in sky blue struggled to stamp their authority. Kawasaki did found their footing in the second half, however they had to survive two scares from Kashiwa ace Mao Hosoya, who was a thorn by Kawasaki’s side throughout the match.

In the 69th minute, 22-year-old Hosoya skillfully maneuvered behind Kawasaki’s solid defensive line, managing to maintain his balance under pressure from defender Takumi Ominami. However, his final touch proved too forceful, causing the ball to roll toward Kawasaki goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong.

In the subsequent promising counter three minutes later, the athletic youngster, who had an effective performance playing as No. 10, received a diagonal pass from Kota Yamada. Regrettably, he failed to deliver a decisive final ball. Yamada was eventually substituted off in the 77th minute.

Despite attempts from Daiya Tono and Yusuke Segawa in the 79th minute and stoppage time respectively, both shots were directed straight at Kashiwa goalkeeper Kenta Matsumoto. Conversely, Eiichi Katayama’s late shot from a tight angle was thwarted by the post as the match proceeded to extra time.

Kashiwa had a prime opportunity in the 99th minute when Hosoya’s one-on-one shot was saved by Jung, and Keiya Sento narrowly missed the target with the subsequent attempt. In the second half of extra time, former Swansea City and Galatasaray danger man Bafetimbi Gomis had a pivotal chance in the 118th minute for Kawasaki, but Matsumoto’s flying save onto the bar denied his free header off Miki Yamane’s cross from the right.

The game headed to penalties, where Kashiwa’s fourth taker, Sento, struck the post. Despite this setback, Matsumoto’s consecutive saves against Gomis and Kyohei Noborizato kept his team in contention. Katayama’s spot-kick, however, struck the bar, and Jung denied Matsumoto’s subsequent shot, securing victory after calmly converting his own attempt.