Official Match Report: Cerezo Osaka vs Ventforet Kofu (J. League Division 1 Matchday 31)

 


Cerezo return to Yanmar Stadium Nagai, taking on 13th placed Ventforet Kofu in the fight to remain in J1. It was a match that 17th placed Cerezo had to win by whatever means necessary, in order to avoid relegation to J2. The pink supporters clapped and cheered as the team bus arrived at the stadium, letting the players know that the club was standing together as one to face this decisive battle. The team came out firing in the first half, with every player working hard, and the pink warriors showed really determination to win. As a result, in the 25th minute Sakemoto pressed deep into the opposition's defense, and latched onto an opponent's errant pass, setting up Cacau for a goal, his fourth in as many matches at home, giving Cerezo the lead they sought. The stadium suddenly grew more excited. Cerezo continued to attack, however the half ended 1-0, and the second half was a nightmare for the team in pink. In the 62nd minute, a Kofu free kick from near the half way line found the towering head of former Cerezo player Morita, who equalised, turning the flow of the match in Kofu's favour. 'We went into this match knowing that we had to win, but they took advantage of that at the back and we conceded' Hasegawa said after the match, and sure enough, in the 71st minute Kofu took the lead after dispatching a penalty, and scored again in the 73rd minute from a swift attack. Forlan and Kusukami were brought on late in the match, throwing everything into the counter attack, but Kofu's strong and clever defensive structure could not be broken down. The match finished 1-3. It is unfortunate that Cerezo suffered this defeat at home, and at the same time 15th placed Shimizu earned a victory, opening up the gap in the relegation zone to four points with three matches left, leaving Cerezo clinging on for dear life. After the match, the players could not hide their shock, however many proudly said that it's not over yet. 'There are still games left, we're going to prepare for them, and go into them to win,' said Minamino, and Hasegawa said 'We believe in ourselves until the very end, and we'll keep fighting.' Sakemoto added 'As long as we have a chance, we'll fight to stay in J1.' The team will stand together with the supporters who've cheered them on so far, and everyone else who has been with Cerezo, and work to remain in J1. They'll keep fighting. Unless they push the memories of this round's defeat out of their minds, they'll never be able to look to the future.