J2 vs Fagiano Okayama: Match Report

On Sunday third-placed Cerezo Osaka played against fifth-placed Fagiano Okayama in a crucial match in the race for automatic promotion to J1. All tickets sold out the day before the match, which was played in front of 15,203 supporters; a home record for Okayama this season.

Both teams started aggressively and Kota Fujimoto was impressive in defence for Cerezo, winning most of his duels with Fagiano youngster Yoshiki Fujimoto. Cerezo focused most of their attacks down the left side, but were forced into an early substitution when Fujimoto injured his right thigh – on which he had surgery last year – and had to be replaced by Teruyuki Moniwa.

Despite that accident, Cerezo maintained the initiative and opened the scoring in the 37th minute after Souza intercepted the ball and brought it forward to earn a corner. From the resultant play Shohei Kiyohara's shot was blocked by a defender, but the midfielder collected the rebound and laid it off for Souza, who smashed it into the net.

It looked like Cerezo would have further opportunities via counter-attacks, but that in fact turned out to be a danger. In the 43rd minute, Yusuke Maruhashi's cross was cleared and Okayama launched an attack of their own. Shinya Yajima sent a vertical pass up to Shingo Akamine, who held the ball up well and teed up Kenji Sekido who was quickly on the scene and lashed home from distance.

In the second half both teams had further opportunities, but as the minutes ticked by it was Cerezo who had the better of things. In the 68th minute, for instance, Maruhashi's free kick went just wide, while in the 81st it looked as though Akamine had scored an own goal from a corner only for it to be disallowed for a foul by Ricardo Santos. Cerezo continued to strive for a second goal but were unable to realise that aim.

Cerezo performed well overall but still lacked that something extra to decide the match, and so it ended in a disappointing draw. However, that took them to 67 points, which equals their total from last season. With six matches remaining all they can do is aim for as many points as possible to have a chance of achieving automatic promotion.

J2 League Section 36 Fagiano Okayama J2 League Section 36