Despite so many of our supporters coming over to the stadium, regrettably we didn’t win. However I think both teams had a good game. We tried to get additional goals and played more aggressively in 2nd half, but instead of getting another goal we allowed opponent to score, with our regret. We should have not 3 winning points in total but 6 points from this game, but couldn’t achieve it, I’m afraid. Today, 11th of March is the Memorial Day*, and players paid the respect and played well. We will work hard and play a good game at the next match too. (*March the 11th is the Memorial Day of Great Tohoku Earthquake in Japan.)
Q: How do you feel about Kiyotake’s performance today?
“I think he is a good player. He had some good chances but unfortunately couldn’t execute them today. But I am looking forward to see his good plays. I felt he would inspire the team.”
■ Hiroshi Kiyotake
“I tried to win this game, so it’s a shame ended in just a draw, and I feel responsibility. I had 3 chances but missed them all, I feel so sorry for that. The defence team worked hard patiently, so the offence should have scored.”
Cerezo Osaka boarded onto Sapporo Dome, Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo’s home ground, with a hope of their first victory of the season. They made a couple of changes on their starting members from the last game. Instead of Mitsuru Maruoka and Kunimitsu Sekiguchi, Kazuya Yamamura and Hiroshi Kiyotake who just returned back to Cerezo from this game joined in the 2nd line.
Though Ken Tokura of Consadole Sapporo had the first goal attempt at just 2 minutes into the game by his header, Cerezo started controlling the ball after and at 13 minutes, Elierce Barbosa de Souza took free kick earned by Kenyu Sugimoto, to Matej Jonic who then scored the opening goal with his header. This ‘Hotline’ goal, i.e. Souza to Matej Jonic is the 2nd one running from the last game. “The cross from Souza was just fantastic ball. It was so good so all I had to do was giving a support touch.” said Matej Jonic humbly but he also provided a great effort on defence. He kept blocking Sapporo’s cross oriented attack together with Tatsuya Yamashita in middle of the pitch. After the goal, there were some threatening situations, but at 23 minutes Hotaru Yamaguchi covered the unprotected goal by just himself and saved from a vital shoot of Sapporo. At 44 minutes, Yusuke Maruhashi made a breakthrough and sent a cross to Kiyotake who headed the ball from far side for their 2nd goal, but saved by Sapporo’s goalkeeper Gu Sung-Yun.
In 2nd half, Sapporo had their 1st chance. At 58 minutes, Akito Fukumori took a free kick targeted direct to Cerezo’s goal, but denied by Kenta Tanno’s big save. Tanno was substituted goalkeeper to Kim Jin-Hyeon since the last game. At 63 minutes, Sapporo’s manager Shuhei Yomoda made double substitutes, then used the last substitution allowance at 67 minutes and shifted their strategy to attack. Then at 73 minutes, Ken Tokura headed a cross fed by Yoshihiro Uchimura and scored a goal that made them even. After the counter goal the home crowd became loud and pushed Sapporo to keep attacking, but Cerezo’s players worked their hardest in front of the goal for their survival.
At 79 minutes, Cerezo’s manager Yoon Jung-Hwan substituted Shohei Kiyohara who was born in Hokkaido to Yamamura, and repositioned Kiyotake at middle. Immediately after, at 80 minutes, Kiyotake had a big chance. Hotaru Yamaguchi sent Riku Matsuda’s minor pass direct to behind defenders, Kiyotake synced the timing and took a volley shot. It was the biggest chance, created from the flow, however the ball just missed the frame and went over the bar. It was a fantastic synchronized play created by Yamaguchi and Kiyotake, but unfortunately didn’t become a goal. In the last few minutes of the 1-1 game, both teams tried very hard to aim to get the 3 winning points but neither of them scored and, both ended with 1 point.
After the game, Hiroshi Kiyotake who made 3 attempts at shooting and led the team said, “It’s a shame, the game ended in just a draw, and I feel responsible. I had 3 chances but missed them all, I feel so sorry for that. The defence team worked hard patiently, so the offence should have scored.”, reflected his 1st return game in Cerezo. Though he took his responsibility for missing a victory, this game that started with Kiyotake in their starting member, definitely “had built up the structure of the offence, and increased variations and patterns of attack” (by Yamaguchi). They ended with 1 winning point instead of 3 that they targeted, so there were no smiles among the manager and players, however the defence survived through Sapporo’s vicious attacks, and offence’s team work with Yamamura and Kiyotake looked promising. Moving forward one step at a time and aim for the 1st victory of the season at the next game at home against Sagan Tosu.