“We won today’s match because of the cheering we received from those many supporters who came along all the way to this far for us. I was expecting it would be a tough match today, but our lads risked everything and showed us the fighting hearts and spirits. Although we had no goals in the 1st half, we were saying ‘the chance is coming in 2nd half’. We didn’t have many chances as we were hoping or aiming, but we were believing in ourselves. And I think we expressed that well. We showed our stance of never giving up very well. It was the last game before the mid-break, and to defeat Sanfrecce Hiroshima who is the top of the table was very significant. We are about entering into a long period of straighten up the team, and I want to make this period to make all the players become good players who can play firmly and united.”
■ Kim Jin-hyeon
Q: You made several good saves. Can you please look back your own play?
“It was great to defeat Hiroshima who is the top of the table, before going to the World Cup. I’m not sure if he was watching or not, but hope the manager of Korean International is impressed. I am happy I played well like that just before going to the World Cup, and representing Cerezo Osaka.”
■ Accomplished defeating the leader by strenuous effort from defenders with 2 goals added by the substitute Takagi. Cerezo acquired the 3 winning points and clung onto tops of the league.
Cerezo had 2 weeks gap to prepare since their last J1 league match of 13th round against V-Varen Nagasaki to today’s match, and the injured Kenyu Sugimoto and Hiroshi Kiyotake have recovered during this break. They both started as a starting member. Cerezo started with positive play, and in 5th minute, they had the first chance. Tatsuya Yamashita and Osmar challenged on Patric (Anderson Patric Aguiar Oliveira) when he received the ball, and they succeeded to steal it from him, then Hotaru Yamaguchi sent the ball to left side from middle of the pitch. The ball was passed to Kiyotake to Yusuke Maruhashi, and back to Yamaguchi, then he sent it to right side this time. Takaki Fukumitsu who ran behind defender made a return pass to Sugimoto and his shot shook the opponent’s nets, however Fukumitsu was offside and the goal was not allowed. It was very close play and looked like onside according to re-play, however it didn’t become their opening goal.
After that, Cerezo struggled with Hiroshima’s speedy play and stuck with defending. Cerezo risked all and defended against Hiroshima’s severe attacks, and in 41st minute, Sugimoto headed the free-kick ball taken by Kiyotake, from near the goal post. It was his 1st shot in this game, and in 45th minute, Kiyotake made a shot to the ball dropped by Yang Dong-Hyun, but it didn’t go in, and the 1st half ended.
In the 2nd half, soon after started, the incident was occurred. Kiyotake felt discomfort in his left foot, stopped playing himself and retired, then Toshiyuki Takagi was sent to the pitch in 52nd minute. Despite the unexpected incident, Cerezo kept their calm in the 2nd half, and created some chances from sides, but it was Hiroshima who controlled the game. In 57th minute, from a corner-kick, Yuuki Nogami threaten the goal with his header, however the ball hit Riku Matsuda’s elbow and then hit right on the post. Fortunately, Matsuda didn’t get hand-ball for this play and Cerezo was relieved. And in 64th minute, Cerezo faced the worst crisis in this game by Teerasil Dangda’s cross, however, Patric’s decisive header was saved by Kim Jin-hyeon at the last second and denied to be scored. After the match, Kim Jin-hyeon praised Maruhashi’s dedicated defence against Patric, but it was the big save that determined the flow of the match.
Since then, the expectation of scoring goals started growing for Cerezo. In 81st minute, Yang Dong-Hyun won the ball that was kicked by Kim Jin-hyeon, and Takagi who made through behind defender received the ball spectacularly, turned, dribbled, then executed the shot, and grabbed the opening goal. Then 3 minutes later, Takagi’s right foot was on fire again. He received the rebound on his chest, that came from the defender who blocked Osmar’s cross, stroke it by his right foot without hesitation, and the ball pierced into far-side of the goal where the goalkeeper Takuto Hayashi could not reach.
Cerezo confronted the strength of Hiroshima who is the dominated leader of J1 league table at their home, however the goalkeeper Kim Jin-hyeon and defenders risked all to save their goal, and Cerezo managed to catch Hiroshima off guard, then the substitute Takagi scored 2 goals. As the manager Yoon Jung-Hwan praised, “Our lads risked everything and showed us the fighting hearts and spirits”, they succeeded to defeat the leader. During such heavy schedule that included matches of AFC Champion’s League, from the 5th round of J1 league match against Shonan Bellmare, Cerezo left great result of 7 victories, 2 draws and 1 defeat, that will take them to farther up after the mid-season break.