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Sunday, June 10, 2012

S-Pulse book spot in Nabisco Cup quarterfinals


SHIZUOKA — Shimizu S-Pulse secured their passage into the quarterfinals of the Nabisco Cup with a 3-1 win over already eliminated Omiya Ardija on Saturday.

Group B rival and reigning champion Kashima also went through thanks to Albirex Niigata's failure to beat Yokohama F.Marinos, while it is still all to play for between Jubilo Iwata, Cerezo Osaka, Sagan Tosu and Vegalta Sendai in the race for the two berths from Group A.

S-Pulse, needing only a point from their penultimate Group B match to guarantee a top-two finish and a place in the last eight, preserved their 100 percent record from five games thanks to goals from Yasuhiro Hiraoka, Genki Omae and Ryohei Shirasaki at Nihondaira.

Afshin Ghotbi's men fell behind to a 36th-minute strike from Yu Hasegawa, but hit back through Hiraoka, who equalized when he headed in a free kick from Lee Ki Je four minutes before halftime.

Ardija's Yuki Fukaya conceded a penalty and was sent off on 70 minutes and Omae put away the spot kick before substitute Shirasaki put the issue to bed in the late stages.

Idle Kashima, with 12 points from five games, advanced after Albirex were held to a 0-0 draw at Yokohama F. Marinos, leaving them five points adrift of the holders with one round of matches left on June 27. Consadole Sapporo came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 away to Vissel Kobe, Yasuaki Okamoto netting the equalizer in the 37th minute.

In Group A, Ryohei Yamazaki's 25th-minute goal separated the sides as 2010 champions Jubilo boosted their chances of advancing by beating Kawasaki Frontale 1-0 away. Iwata improved to 12 points, three ahead of Cerezo, Sagan and league leaders Vegalta.

North Korean midfielder Ryang Yong Gi earned Sendai a 1-0 win at home to Cerezo while Sagan were thrashed 5-1 at Sanfrecce Hiroshima. Sagan has the worst goal difference of the four teams ahead of its last match away to Cerezo.

The top two in each group will be joined in the last eight by the four Asian Champions League representatives — J.League champion Kashiwa Reysol, Emperor's Cup holders FC Tokyo, Nagoya Grampus and Gamba Osaka.

The two-leg quarterfinals will be played on July 25 and Aug. 8, with the semis on Sept. 5 and Oct. 13. The final is scheduled for Nov. 3.

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