“It was a truly tough game. (Albirex) Niigata fought tenaciously despite their hard schedule too. Our performance wasn’t that great but the players worked very hard to beat the tenacious Niigata. I give credit to them for not giving up until the real end and kept fighting. I also would like to thank to our supporters who travelled long way for us. It wasn’t a huge crowd but we could hear their shouts on the pitch, we really appreciate for that. Because of their support our players could hang on and worked hard. Today’s victory leads us to another game. However, the game like today is so exhausting, physically as well as mentally. We have more games to come continuously. We’ll have a good rest, recover well and prepare for the next game.”
■ Yasuki Kimoto
- Please look back your decisive goal.
“Before entering extra time, I found that the substitute Maru-san (Yusuke Maruhashi) still had enough energy left, and I was also told by the manager to ’attack from left side’. I always love to attack since I was in high school, so I was thinking to take a chance and go forward. I had a chance before I finally scored. And it gave me a vision (when I scored the goal), helped me to go through to front with a return pass, then I could kick the ball without strain. I’m very happy that I kicked the ball calmly, I feel the practices have paid off.”
Cerezo Osaka managed to bounce back from being behind for the 2nd time. They fought through “the mortal battle at the Big Swan”, and stepped up for the 4th round.
J1 League, J League YBC Levain Cup, and another battle for another title. Cerezo faced the 3rd round of the Emperor’s Cup. They had the best members for this game.
However Cerezo was struggling with defending the Niigata’s attacks conducted by Roni (Ronielson Da Silva Barbosa) and Thiago Galhardo, and at 24th minute, lost the opening goal. Roni tried to dribble through the back of Cerezo’s defence, then knocked down by Noriyuki Sakemoto and earned a free-kick. This free-kick led the header goal by Shu Hiramatsu who joined as a starting member instead of Ryohei Yamazaki who was injured in the warm-up prior to the game. Cerezo’s endurance continued. In the 1st half, the shot by Takaki Fukumitsu at 44th minute, was the only chance they had.
“I cannot see fighting spirits on you. Take your responsibility and play positive.” The 2nd half started after Yoon Jung-Hwan’s pep talk. Soon after the start, Cerezo gained a corner-kick caused by Yusuke Tanaka’s positive attack, the corner-kick was taken by Kunimitsu Sekiguchi and led to a penalty-kick in the opponent’s penalty area for the foul on Tanaka. Hotaru Yamaguchi finished it off with a cool manner, and made Cerezo draw. The 90 minutes ended with a 1-1 draw. The game was extended into the extra time.
Then it was at 95th minute. Kota Fujimoto and Kenta Tanno who both reacted to the through pass kicked by Thiago Galhardo, made a regrettable linking error. Fujimoto failed to clear and left the ball for a second expected the goalkeeper to act, and at the seconds of unguarded moment, Roni managed to put the ball into the goal. But it was Ricardo Santos who succeeded to change that bad air created by losing a goal by the mistake. It was just after 1 minute from the goal they lost. Santos’ intensive header from high position to Yusuke Maruhashi’s cross made Cerezo draw again. Niigata had 2 more chances in the 1st half of the extra time but both were denied by Tanno. Into the 2nd half of the extra time, Niigata had the 1st big chance. Musashi Suzuki reacted to Thiago Galhardo’s through pass and created 1 vs 1 situation against Cerezo’s goalkeeper, but by Tanno’s close approach to him made Suzuki’s shoot out of the target. And at 110th minute, Cerezo had a chance. Yasuki Kimoto who made side change to Yamaguchi received returned pass from Maruhashi and shoot. The goalkeeper punched and saved but Takaki Fukumitsu closed this ball into the net. However, Fukumitsu was offside and it was no goal. But 3 minutes later, Kimoto received the ball at high position in left side, passed to Ricardo Santos who made the return pass back to him, and entered into the penalty area. Kimoto made a fantastic shot into the goal, that made Cerezo to lead for the 1st time in this match, then they managed to end the game by using the rest of the time wisely.