J2 vs Montedio Yamagata: Match Report

Ahead of this match there were just six games to play in J2, and with the gap to 2nd-placed Matsumoto Yamaga four points Cerezo Osaka needed to win this home game against Montedio Yamagata not only to catch Matsumoto but also to improve their chances of earning automatic promotion to J1.

Cerezo began with same starting XI and substitutes as in the previous game against Fagiano Okayama, and were threatened straight away as Yamagata striker Masashi Oguro created a chance for himself in the area. Cerezo also showed an aggressive attitude and began to apply pressure to Yamagata, with Riku Matsuda having an especially good effort. Yusuke Tanaka then had a shot from distance in the 20th minute that drew a good save from Yamagata’s keeper, and from the resultant corner Kota Fujimoto hit the post with a header.

Cerezo weren’t able to take any of these opportunities but finally managed to make a breakthrough just before half time as Matsuda won a loose ball from Souza’s free kick and crossed from the right for Keiji Tamada to volley home with an acrobatic left footed effort. As a result Cerezo went into the break with spirits high.

In the second half Cerezo became, in Tamada’s words, “passive” though and gave Yamagata room to fight back. In the 61st minute Cerezo allowed Yamagata to pass the ball around and it ultimately fell to Oguro, who had manoeuvred himself into space between the defence and goalkeeper, Kim Jin-hyeon. Kim did his best to get to the ball first but it also struck Oguro and deflected into the goal to level the scores.

Noriyuki Sakemoto replaced Tamada in the 62nd minute and Kazuya Yamamura came on for Tanaka 10 minutes later as Cerezo tried to retake the initiative. However, in the 74th minute Souza tangled with an opponent in the box and a penalty was awarded, which Oguro converted to put Montedio ahead.

In order to try and recover Cerezo made their last substitution in the 78th minute, adding the powerful striker Ryuji Sawakami to the front line. Yamagata were defending their one-goal lead valiantly though and Cerezo struggled to find a way through, despite also pushing Souza, Fujimoto, and Sugimoto forward to join Sawakami.

Then, in the 94th minute, Cerezo supporters were finally able to celebrate. Souza and Sawakami competed for a Matsuda cross and the loose ball fell to Yamamura just outside the area. His effort fizzed low and struck a defender before flying into the net.

The game ended 2-2. Matsumoto also drew, so it was a real pity to miss the opportunity to close the gap on them. Furthermore, Shimizu S-Pulse won, lifting them to 3rd and sending Cerezo down to 4th.

There is no time for regrets though, because Cerezo set their goal as automatic promotion to J1. After the game Tamada said he sees this one point as a “positive thing” and Cerezo can’t afford to change his attitude as they seek to win all of their remaining matches.

J2 League Section 37 Montedio Yamagata 2 - 2 J2 League Section 37

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