Soccer: Wakizaka, Marcinho lead Frontale into Emperor's Cup semis

© Kyodo News

Yasuto Wakizaka set up Kawasaki Frontale's first two goals and scored the third as the J-League leaders booked their spot in the Emperor's Cup semifinals with a comprehensive 3-1 win over Kashima Antlers.

The win at Todoroki Stadium sent Frontale into a semifinal against Oita Trinita, 2-0 winners at J2-side Jubilo Iwata.

Cerezo Osaka will take on Urawa Reds in the other Dec. 12 semifinal after a 3-0 away win against Nagoya Grampus. Reds won 2-0 at Gamba Osaka.

From the opening minutes in Kawasaki, Brazilian forward Marcinho was a constant danger down the left flank for the hosts. Although Antlers were at first able to shut down Frontale's high-octane passing game, Marcinho opened the scoring, heading in a Wakizaka corner in the 32nd minute.

Although Frontale dominated possession, they were unable to score again until the start of the second half.

Just after the break, Marcinho doggedly staved off a pair defenders to get the ball down the left, from where his pass found Wakizaka on the edge of the area.

The midfielder took a full-blooded shot that ricocheted off surprised teammate Reo Hatate's head and into the net for a 48th-minute goal. Three minutes later, Wakizaka took an Akihiro Ienaga through pass and blasted home to make it 3-0.

"We knew coming in it would be a tough game, but we are aiming to win the championship, and that competitive resolve over 90 minutes helped achieve this result," Wakizaka said.

"That first goal from the set piece is something we've practiced and it turned out to be a key. Kashima play defense at a very high level, so being able to score today gives us confidence in the league."

Frontale keeper Jung Sung Ryong was rarely challenged but did make a good save in the 77th minute. He had no chance, however, when Antlers scored in the dying minutes from a goalmouth scramble.

A blocked shot off a defender's boot struck Kashima midfielder Ryoto Araki square in the head and rebounded into the net.

The Emperor's Cup final is slated for Dec. 19 at the National Stadium.