Semi-Final Matches, ties played Sunday 28th of December:
Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies 3 - 1 JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies
Neither Urawa nor JEF United made any changes to their lineups for this second semi-final, with league champions Urawa favourites to reach the final on New Year's Day. Both sides were runners-up in this competition in recent years, though neither has ever won the competition.
The league's top scorer Sugasawa Yuika went very close for JEF United early in the game as Urawa were caught out by a ball over the top. While JEF United were happy to go down the middle Urawa looked to spread the ball wide down both wings.
Following a lull in the action, Fukusawa Risa missed a fine chance to give JEF United the lead. A cross into the Urawa box caused defensive confusion, though Ikeda did well to parry the shot. At the other end Urawa were still creating little though Kira and Goto in particular were always dangerous.
Setoguchi Kozue was the next to have a shot on goal following a corner kick with less than ten minutes to half-time, though it lacked power and was easily caught by Ikeda. A break created by fine hustling in midfield by Kawamura led to another opportunity wasted by JEF United, and they will have grown frustrated at their inability to finish. In the forty-fourth minute Sugasawa missed another great chance though Kohata got a touch to deflect the ball wide.
Saito Akane was replaced at half-time, Urawa introducing Seike Kiko to the game earlier than they probably would have expected was necessary. Nonetheless, in the opening minutes of the second half JEF United continued to push for the opening goal.
Anzai Yuka picked up a booking on fifty-eight minutes for slightly aggressive play, and she was the outstanding player in the second half, picking up the ball in midfield and driving forward with intent.
Urawa had done little to suggest they would score, but it was they who took the lead in the sixty-third minute, Dozone Ayano rising highest to head home Wada Naoko's corner kick. At the other end Sugasawa had a header saved on the line, though Norimatsu Ruka's hand on the ball went unnoticed. JEF United brought on Hosaka Nodoka for with a quarter of the game to go, with Setoguchi making way.
Urawa's second goal came after twenty-four minutes of the second half, Seike Kiko with a powerful run down the right to beat the JEF defence and finish well through Yamane's legs. At this point Usui Rie came on for Wada as Urawa looked to close out the game.
Urawa scored again, with Yamane Erina again punished for coming out to clear a ball and then missing. Seike was the one to profit, poking the ball home from well outside the area, with goalkeeper Ikeda Sakiko finding her free on the right.
Anzai came off for Kamogawa with fifteen minutes remaining though JEF United were now a beaten side. They continued to create danger in front of Ikeda's goal but Urawa's defence was solid. Ishii Saki came on for the final seven minutes, replacing Kato Chika. Seike almost scored a third from outside the area but the ball fell just wide.
Fukusawa Risa scored a consolation with seconds remaining in additional time, but it wasn't enough to spoil Urawa's day. They go on to face Beleza in a repeat of the 2009 final on Thursday afternoon.
Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies:
Ikeda Sakiko, Kohata Shiho, Dozono Ayano, Wada Naoko, Norimatsu Ruka, Saito Akane, Kishikawa Natsuki, Shibata Hanae, Kato Chika, Kira Chinatsu, Goto Michi (capt)
Subs: Seike Kiko (Saito Akane, HT), Usui Rie (Wada Naoko, 70 mins), Ishii Saki (Kato Chika, 84 mins)
Unused subs: Matsumoto Mamiko, Tomari Shiho
Scorers: Dozono Ayano (64 mins), Seike Kiko (69, 73 mins)
JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies:
Yamane Erina, Ueno Saki, Sakuramoto Naoko (capt), Wakabayashi Minori, Chino Shoko, Anzai Yuka, Fukasawa Risa, Setoguchi Kozue, Kawamura Mari, Ikadai Risa, Sugasawa Yuika
Subs: Hosaka Nodoka (Setoguchi Kozue, 67 mins), Kamogawa Miho (Anzai Yuka, 75 mins)
Unused subs: Nemoto Mio, Tsurumi Ayaka, Matsuura Nagisa
Scorers: Fukasawa Risa (90+3 mins)
Booked: Anzai Yuka
Nippon TV Beleza 2 - 0 Vegalta Sendai Ladies
Vegalta Sendai brought Uetsuji Yumi into their starting lineup for their semi-final against Beleza, who started with the same lineup which saw off Niigata. The ten-time champions were expected to beat Vegalta for the third time this year, but Sendai were determined to upset the odds to appear in their first ever final. Kobayashi Yayoi, who announced this week that she would retire at the conclusion of this competition, started on the bench.
Sendai came out the stronger with both Kakazu and Sakai having early shots at goal, though neither were on target. At the other end Tanaka Mina had Beleza's first good chance after ten minutes with Shimizu Risa providing a good cross from the right. From this point Beleza started to take control of the game and Sendai's chances became more limited, though Sameshima's crosses from the left were a constant threat.
A free kick from Uetsuji in the twenty-fourth minute initially appeared harmless, but with everyone in the box missing the ball - including the unmarked target Kawamura - it ended up hitting the post. This was Sendai's best opportunity in the opening period and gave them impetus to shoot on sight.
A quick and incisive move at the other end gave Beleza the lead, with Hasegawa Yui finishing off well from a one-touch through pass from Sakaguchi. Brittany Cameron in the Sendai goal almost kept the ball out but her touch wasn't quite enough to divert it wide.
Hamada Haruka came into this game with two hat-tricks in two games and she looked the most determined of Sendai's attacking players, looking both to score herself and to set up others, but found it difficult against Beleza's experienced defence.
No changes were made at half-time by either side as Sendai again came out strongly with a good shot by Takara blocked in the goalmouth followed up by good play from Kawamura and Hamada.
Beleza created little but were content to soak up pressure and wait for a chance to strike, with Tanaka Mina their outlet up front. The first corner of the game went to Beleza after the hour mark, which led to a free kick when Sakai handled just outside the box, though Beleza were unable to make anything of this chance.
Koyama Kie came on for Ono Hitomi after seventy-one minutes as Sendai were the first to make a change in attack. At the other end Momiki Yuka was making a nuisance of herself and had more than one good chance to score. Yamaguchi Mami came on after seventy-six minutes for Beleza, with Tanaka Mina making way.
A ball over the top from Sakaguchi for Yamaguchi led to a second goal for Beleza in the seventy-ninth minute, with Yamamoto Risa heading into her own net; Brittany Cameron appeared to be coming to collect the ball and there may have been a degree of miscommunication. Inoue Ayaka came on for Sendai replacing Takara immediately afterwards, though it was almost certainly too late for her to make an impression.
Tahara Nozomi and Kobayashi Yayoi came on for Kakazu and Sumida respectively with less than two minutes remaining. Ultimately Beleza easily held on to their lead and progress to their eighteenth final appearance, and the first in five years.
Nippon TV Beleza:
Yamashita Ayaka, Shimizu Risa, Muramatsu Tomoko, Iwashimizu Azusa (capt), Ariyoshi Saori, Hara Natsuko, Momiki Yuka, Hasegawa Yui, Sumida Rin, Sakaguchi Mizuho, Tanaka Mina
Subs: Yamaguchi Mami (Tanaka Mina, 77 mins), Kobayashi Yayoi (Sumida Rin, 89 mins)
Unused subs: Soyama Kanako, Kinoshita Shiori, Kiryu Nanase
Scorers: Hasegawa Yui (30 mins), Own Goal (79 mins)
Vegalta Sendai Ladies:
Brittany Cameron, Osafune Kana, Yamamoto Risa, Sakai Yuki, Sameshima Aya, Kawamura Yuri, Uetsuji Yumi (capt), Kakazu Asuka, Takara Ryoko, Hamada Haruka, Ono Hitomi
Subs: Koyama Kie (Ono Hitomi, 72 mins), Inoue Ayaka (Takara Ryoko, 80 mins), Tahara Nozomi (Kakazu Asuka, 89 mins)
Unused subs: Saita Yuki, Sasaki Mayu
Final Match, to be played Thursday 1st of January:
Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies versus Nippon TV Beleza