Japan: Champions Nagoya prevail in Super Cup
J-League champions Nagoya Grampus Eight and Emperor’s Cup holders Kashima Antlers began the season in Japan on Saturday with the traditional curtain raising Super Cup match.
Nagoya won their maiden league title in 2010 having beaten nearest challengers Gamba Osaka by ten points whilst Kashima Antlers, the team deposed as league champions by Nagoya, had the consolation of winning Japanese football’s main knockout tournament defeating Shimuzu S-Pulse 2-1 in the final. Kashima were hoping to win their third consecutive Super Cup whilst Nagoya were hoping to win a second Super Cup crown fifteen years after their first.
The game was a tight affair in the first half and, to nobody’s surprise, remained goalless at the break. Thankfully the game opened up in the second half when Takahiro Masukawa headed home to break the deadlock nine minutes into the second half and this gave the game the spur it needed. Twelve minutes later the game was back on level terms following Takuya Nozawa’s free-kick and this was how the game would end up following 120 minutes of action.
Therefore a penalty shoot-out was needed and it was looking bad for the champions after Australian international Joshua Kennedy missed with the first spot-kick but Kashima were unable to capitalise as captain Daiki Iwamasa also failed to convert his opportunity. Nagoya scored from three of their remaining penalties as Jungo Fujimoto, Alessandro Santos and Yoshizumi Ogawa were all successful whereas Kashima could only watch in despair as Alex and Toru Araiba had their kicks saved by Nagoya keeper Seigo Narazaki. This allowed the champions to prevail by a 3-1 scoreline in the shoot-out and meant that Nagoya could savour their second triumph in this competition.