“It was the 1st match for us since our victory of the Levain Cup title, and we received so much strength again from so many people. Though we didn’t start very well, we turned the things around in 2nd half and showed many good plays. The players never gave up until the end, kept their calm, and that led us to this result. I believe that the victory of the Cup tournament gave extra strength to the players. They took advantage of the experience from the cup matches for today’s game. Their attitude of shaping back when they fell behind was fantastic, they’ve done something that we didn’t have before, it was a great game when I think back. We have 2 more games in the league, and I feel we’ve made a foundation by ourselves today to be able to reach within top 3. With 2 more remaining games, I would like to secure the entry to ACL (Asia Champions League). The players expressed that feeling in today’s match too, so I really believe that we can do it. I am so happy to receive so much strength from so many people, and would like to return the gratitude to them.”
■ Hiroshi Kiyotake
“We didn’t have good sense of distance in 1st half, but as Yoichiro (Kakitani) said before beginning of the 2nd half ‘we need one goal, and that’ll change the flow’, everyone was thinking the same. And I’m happy it became true. Though we have some chances in 1st half too, we didn’t play so compact. But we played well as a team in 2nd half.”
Though losing the opening goal, Cerezo managed to have fierce goal rush. The complete victory against the rival made them to stay at 3rd position in the league that is within range of ACL entry.
The starting members were exactly the same eleven as the final of Levain Cup. As the manager Yoon Jung-Hwan expresses ‘the current best’, they lined up on the pitch for 4 consecutive games since the match against Sagan Tosu at 29th round. The 1st game after the victory of the Cup title, the 1st league match after a while, and, the away match. There were some apprehension, but they kept ball well and played fine. However there were some miscommunications of passes at attack, and there was a threatening scene created by opponent’s quick attack from the both sides to their lost ball.
Then it was at 13th minute. The strong long shoot by David Babunski from outside of left side penalty area was taken a moment of chance, and Cerezo lost the opening goal to Yokohama F. Marinos. Though the shot was a great world class action, the defender Kota Mizunuma regretted his reaction ‘I should never give a chance away like that’. After that, Cerezo could not pressurize at their defence and Yokohama FM was in charge for a while, but Cerezo didn’t go down completely, kept their loss by 1 goal, built the defence power back again gradually, and ended 1st half with keeping their hope to 2nd half.
Into the 2nd half, Cerezo pressurized Yokohama FM even more. The manager instructed “if you can go deep down at sides, then it’ll lead to the chance at centre”, they intended to attack from sides more than 1st half, and tried to upset Yokohama FM’s defence. Then as Kiyotake commented “In 2nd half, Maru (Yusuke Maruhashi) said to me ‘you should be there next to Hotaru (Yamaguchi) and Souza’. So I touched the ball while I was going down a bit, then moved forward. The opponent wasn’t aware of the player who could come out from the 2nd line, I think”, he added a twist on how they attack, and at 64th minute, they scored the much-wanted draw goal. Maruhashi received Mizunuma’s left foot side change pass at high point, Kiyotake who came out from the 2nd line ran through the space in between Yokohama FM’s defence lines and received the pass from Maruhashi, then struck the ball with his left foot to score the draw goal.
And that was start of Cerezo’s fierce goal rush. 4 minutes after the draw goal, at this time from left side, the pass went along Hotaru Yamaguchi to Kiyotake then Kakitani, and that made Yokohama FM’s centre-back Yuji Nakazawa to come out, then Kiyotake received Kakitani’s high pass by his heel, passed to Mizunuma who ran into the unmarked space in the middle and scored a goal with his left foot. “I was intending to feed Yoichiro (Kakitani), but it was Kota (Mizunuma) there, like that (with laughter)”, Kiyotake looked back his assist to the goal, and it was great form of breaking opponent’s defence by several players shared an image of scoring at the same time. Then 2 minute after the 2nd goal, at 70th minute, the corner kick took by Maruhashi went to near the goal, was struck hard by Sugimoto, and made the 3rd goal. Sugimoto who just came back from Europe played for Japan national team, left a result, while celebrating his own birthday, and also reached his number of goals total to 20 points that made him tie top on the scoring ranking table with Shinzo Koroki of Urawa Reds.
The closing of goal rush masterpiece was done by Matej Jonjic. At 87th minute, from a corner-kick took by Maruhashi again, Sugimoto received the ball at high point and made a shot with his header, then Hiroki Iikura, Yokohama FM’s goalkeeper fumbled, and Jonjic made the execution. Cerezo earned a star on their uniform by winning the title of Levain Cup, beat Yokohama FM by magnificent performance as the champion should be, and stayed at 3rd place on the league table that is within range of ACL qualification.