Japanese double takes NEC to first Dutch cup final in 24 years

Kodai Sano (centre) and Koki Ogawa celebrate after beating Cambuur Leeuwarden. Photo: ANP/Cor Lasker

NEC Nijmegen needed extra time to overcome second-tier side Cambuur Leeuwarden and reach the Dutch cup final for the first time in 24 years.

Kodai Sano scored the winning goal in the 99th minute, after Yvandro Borges Sanches outfoxed two defenders on the right flank before squaring the ball across goal to the Japanese midfielder, who shot low into the corner.

Cambuur had taken the lead in the first half when Fedde de Jong headed a cross back across goal for the Latvian Roberts Uldrikis to nod in.

NEC equalised on the hour mark after a period of prolonged pressure, when Koki Ogawa diverted a low corner beyond the reach of Yanick van Osch.

The Eredivisie side pressed for a winner, but it was Cambuur who came closest five minutes from time when Milan Smit’s header was turned away by goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen.

NEC will play either Feyenoord or another Keuken Kampioen Divisie side, Groningen, on April 21. The Nijmegen club were the last lower division side to reach the final in 2000, when they lost 2-0 to Roda JC Kerkrade.

NEC have reached the Dutch Cup final on three other occasions, but lost each time.

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