J2 vs Tokushima Vortis: Match Report

Cerezo Osaka played away to Tokushima Vortis on Sunday, just three days after their Emperor's Cup third round tie against Sagan Tosu. This was the last match in a series of three consecutive away games in eight days.

Cerezo made a promising start and Kenyu Sugimoto came close to scoring after a good dribble in the 8th minute. Just one minute later, Sugimoto again went close with a header from Riku Matsuda's cross. After that Vortis's hard pressing made things difficult for Cerezo though, and they couldn't attack the opponent's goal as they wanted.

In the 25th minute, Tamada saw an effort saved by Tokushima goalkeeper Toru Hasegawa at his near post, before Shoehei Kiyohara – making his first start in six games – sent an effort just wide after a nice run in the 38th minute. Cerezo allowed the opponents only two shots in the first half, but they were unable to break down Tokushima's defence.

It had been raining from the start of the game but in the second half it grew heavier and there were many pools of water on the pitch. That made it difficult to play short passes and so the coach made an immediate decision to bring on Noriyuki Sakemoto, who has very good crossing ability, and Ricardo Santos, who is good in the air. The rest of the team changed approach to suit that switch, and it worked.

In the 79th minute, Teruyuki Moniwa sent in a cross from the left flank and Ricardo Santos connected with a header. His attempt was saved by the goalkeeper, but Sakemoto sent a high ball in from the resulting corner and Souza was brought down by defender Yuya Hashiuchi, giving Cerezo a penalty.

Souza placed the ball on the spot himself, but the coach ordered that Sugimoto should take it. That trust in his striker was rewarded as the No.9 sent home the crucial goal in the 82nd minute.

With this victory, third-placed Cerezo extended the gap between themselves and Fagiano Okayama in fourth to five points. Matsumoto Yamaga FC remain in second place, a point above Cerezo. The next match is a home fixture against fifth-placed Shimizu S-Pulse – another crucial game between two teams aiming for promotion.