Ventforet Kofu, the J2 League team, has won the Emperor’s Cup for the first time in the club’s history. After defeating Sanfrecce Hiroshima, club from J.League in the penalty shootout with a score of 5-4 after a draw in 120 minutes 1-1 in the Emperor’s Cup 102nd final at the Nissan Stadium, Yokohama.
Kofu defeated the J1 club in 4 consecutive games from the 3rd round and advanced to the final. It is the first time to advance to the final, aiming for the J2 championship since FC Tokyo in 2011. On the other hand, Hiroshima advanced to the final for the first time in nine tournaments. Although he has won the Emperor’s Cup three times during his time with the former Toyo Kogyo Soccer Club, he has finished runner-up five times since the establishment of the J-League. Aiming for the first victory as Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the sixth final.
Their basic formation is 3-4-2-1. The match turned into a mirror game, with Hiroshima taking possession of the ball from the beginning. Even though they tried to pass the ball carefully and waited for a chance, they were blocked by Kofu’s concentrated defense and could not enter the box. On the other hand, Kofu creates a chance with a quick attack after taking it. In the 15th minute, Masahiro Sekiguchi, who cut the ball in the opposing half, delivered a through pass into the box. Genki Hasegawa escaped and shot from one touch, but was blocked by GK Keisuke Osako’s save.
After that, Kofu also increased possession of the ball and increased playing time in the opponent’s half. In the 26th minute, Kofu scored the first goal. Hasegawa, the kicker, chose the short corner when he got a left CK. Sho Araki, who slipped out of the box to the left after a small exchange of passes, returned the ball with a grounder in the center, and Tsukasa Mihei shook the goal net at the near side.
Hiroshima’s players in each position moved fluidly to increase their ball retention rate and push Kofu forward, but they were hampered by a solid defensive block and were unable to find a shot. The first half ended with Kofu’s 1-point lead.
Hiroshima, chasing a goal, changed two forwards at half time. Tsukasa Morishima and Douglas Vieira were dropped, and Ezekieu and Nassim Ben Khalifa were brought in.
In the second half, Hiroshima continued to hold onto the ball and push Kofu forward. Substitute Ben Khalifa started at the forefront and increased the number of times he invaded the box with fluid movements of the attacking team, but he was unable to break down Kofu’s concentrated defense and was unable to score.
Kofu, who had been patient for a long time, had a chance in the 73rd minute. Willian Lira, who kept the ball up front, dribbled it up and struck a right foot right in front of the box. However, the powerful shot hit the crossbar and was not added to the score.
Hiroshima introduced fresh players one after another to try to overcome the situation. All the field players enter the enemy’s territory and push Kofu. In the 84th minute, a goal was finally scored. Ezekieu, who kept the ball deep in the left flank, supplied a pass through the defender’s crotch. Takumu Kawamura, who received the ball, entered the box on the left and swung his left foot, and a powerful shot pierced the goal net, returning the game to the beginning.
After that, both teams created chances but were unable to score the winning goal, and the match went into extra time.
In the 91st minute, Pierros Sotiriu was knocked down near the left corner of the box and Hiroshima won a free kick. Makoto Mitsuda aimed directly with his right foot, but the shot hit the crossbar and unfortunately did not go ahead. In the 100th minute, Mitsuda, who kept the ball in the front center of the box, fired a powerful mid-range shot. The ball caught the frame, but was blocked by a good save by GK Kawata.
After that, Hiroshima strengthened their offensive and created many chances, but they could not shake the goal net. In the 115th minute, Mitsuda’s vertical pass hit Hideomi Yamamoto in the box, giving Hiroshima a penalty kick. However, Mitsuda’s kick was blocked by GK Kawata’s good save and did not lead to a goal. The extra time ended as it was, and the decision of the game was entrusted to the penalty shootout.
In Hiroshima, the fourth player, Kawamura failed. On the other hand, all five of Kofu, who attacked later, succeeded. Kofu, who won the penalty shootout, won the Emperor’s Cup for the first time. It was the first victory in 11 tournaments as a J2 team. It was the first time in history that a J2 club defeated a J1 club in the final to win the Emperor’s Cup.
In addition, Ventforet Kofu will play in an AFC Champions League competition for the first time in club history, in the 2023/24 season and become the first J2 team in Japanese football history. because this season They have just survived relegation in J2 with 42 points from 40 games, stay in rank 18th in the table.
Credit Photo : Kaoru Watanabe/Gekisaga