Bruno Mendes’s powerful header thrashed leaders. Brilliant attack and defence led Cerezo to victory.
Two days after the 6th game of the Levain cup against Oita Trinita, Cerezo hosted FC Tokyo, unbeaten runners and the leaders of the group. In the 78th minute, Bruno Mendes met Riku Matsuda’s cross with his header, which led Cerezo to win. Their hard work had paid off.
For the starting line-up, Cerezo made just one change from the 12th match against Gamba Osaka. Toshiyuki Takagi was replaced by Leandro Desabato, who played with Hiroaki Okuno as one of top 2 in a 4-4-2. The game kicked off in 30℃ heat. Both teams fought hard under the scorching sunlight. Many tackles and challenges were seen during the battle, but the team setting the initiative in the early stages were Cerezo.
In the 4th minute, Okuno shot from Leandro Desabato’s cross after Bruno Mendes diverted Okuno’s pass into space. In the 10th minute, following Bruno Mendes’s pass into space, a one-touch play with Matuda and Kota Mizunuma, with Mizunuma putting in a cross for Yusuke Maruhashi who shot, but it was deflected by the defender and went narrowly wide. It sparked a mix-up of the Tokyo FC defenders in the box, which threatened the rivals.
Cerezo, who picked up the second ball, stepped up their pace, being vigilant for the foes’ counter-attack. That said, FC Tokyo, who conceded five goals in the last 12 league games, showed a formidable defence. In the 43rd minute, they counterattacked, but Maruhashi exploited it to deliver a cross, but it was cleared. Cerezo who were struggling to score an opener pushed up a defensive line to stay compact and never gave away any big chances to FC Tokyo.
In the second half, the opponents chased the game and took a chance in the 49th and the 59th minutes, respectively. Following the moment, Cerezo sped up passing to press forward. After the game, Manager Lotina admitted: “ We showed a slick passing and got in the opponents’ box.” In the 78th minute, a great chance fell to Cerezo. Following Naoyuki Matsuda's through ball, an unmarked Bruno Mendes met Matsuda’s fine cross with his header which prodded home at the near side. Cerezo took the lead.
With Atomu Tanaka, a substitute, Cerezo continued to put out an offensive side. In the 85th minute, Mizunuma nearly shot the ball in after FC Tokyo goalkeeper Akihiro Hayashi tipped Bruno Mendes’s shot. Shortly after the start of additional time of 6 minutes, Cerezo had to go through dangerous moments caused by centre back’s poor play. Diego Oliveria went through to meet one on one with the goalkeeper Kim Jin Hyeon, but his fine save denied his shot. For this event, he later commented: “I dealt it with calmly without jumping forward.”
The game ended with a 1-0 win. The skipper, Koji Kiyotake, commented before the game; “ When we are in good condition, we can pick up the second ball. Working hard is critical.” Like what he said, all the players worked hard in an organised manner, even in the scene of the tackle. Cerezo who thrashed the unbeaten record holders shared their joy with the home supporters.