J2 vs JEF United Chiba: Match Review

With the end of the season closing in Cerezo Osaka had stalled with three draws in a row, and came into this away game against JEF United Chiba knowing they must win in order to keep alive their faint chances of earning automatic promotion to J1. JEF’s own chances of making the play offs had been extinguished in the previous round.

Cerezo made two changes from the previous game against Mito Hollyhock, with Teruyuki Moniwa replacing the injured Tatsuya Yamashita and Noriyuki Sakemoto starting as a shadow striker instead of Shohei Kiyohara.

Cerezo had a lot of possession in the first half and attacked from both sides, but Chiba’s defenders resolutely dealt with their crosses. In the 23rd minute Kenyu Sugimoto penetrated into the box and attracted three defenders before passing into the centre to Sakemoto, but his shot flew straight at the opponents’ keeper. Ryuji Sawakami, who started again as the sole striker as he had done in the previous game, often tried to break through the opponents’ back line, but he was well marked and struggled to produce a repeat of his strong performance last time out. Despite all of their possession, Sakemoto’s effort was the only shot Cerezo managed in the first half.

At times after losing the ball Cerezo were attacked on the counter, though, and from one such play in the 43rd minute they conceded the opener. Chiba used the space between the holding midfielders and back line well, and although Cerezo goalkeeper Kim Jim-hyoen got a touch to Yuya Ide’s shot he couldn’t prevent it from going in.

At the beginning of the second half coach Kiyoshi Okuma brought Kazuya Yamamura on for Moniwa and changed the formation to 4-2-3-1. Even so, the team still weren’t able to break down Chiba’s compact defence. In the 55th minute and 60th minute, respectively, Souza and Sugimoto had efforts from outside the penalty area, but neither shot was able to find the back of the net. In the 67th minute Hotaru Yamaguchi also fashioned a chance for himself from the edge of the area after a one-two with Yamamura, but his attempt was denied by the keeper.

In the 74th minute coach Okuma introduced Keiji Tamada as the third and final substitute, but just after the change Cerezo conceded again. Chiba’s Ado Onaiwu controlled a cross well on his chest before turning and volleying home from just inside the area. Chiba then went on to score again in the 90th minute to wrap up the win.

After the game the distance to 2nd placed Matsumoto Yamaga FC extended to nine points with only three games of the regular season left to play. Considering the goal difference as well it now looks very difficult to qualify for automatic promotion to J1. There were many things to be improved upon from this match, but Cerezo need to set themselves again and prove over the remainder of this season that they have changed from last year.