Bruno Mendes’s opener, Mizunuma’s winner, and solid defence led Cerezo to win with a clean sheet!
After two day’s interval from J League YBC Levain Cup play-off round 1 against FC Tokyo, Cerezo Osaka faced Jubilo Iwata at the 16th game of J1League. From the very start, Cerezo had the upper hand, displaying slick passing and created a chance. In the 9th minute, Hiroaki Okuno threaded a ball to Bruno Mendes, who cut through the defensive line to shoot, but was denied by Jubilo goalkeeper Kaminsky’s fine save.
Following the event, Cerezo aggressively pressed forward with a corner kick and a long through pass. This time, the Lotina-side, who squashed a chance in the first half that caused negative result in the Kashima game. In the 20th minute, a chance fell to Cerezo. After Yusuke Maruhashi sent the ball from Naoyuki Fujita behind the high defensive line, Bruno Mendes made one touch and drove a shot. Kaminsky parried it, but Cerezo picked it up to prod home.
At the goal moment, Cerezo players jumped out of the dugout to join the Yurikago dance in the pitch. The celebration extended to the birth of Riku Matsuda's first son, who was born on the day of the match, which amused my fans at the stadium. Cerezo coasted through the first half. Hiroshi Kiyotake commented later, “ It meant a lot for us to get an opener when we are playing well.” Minutes before half time, Iwata Forward Rodrigues threatened Cerezo with his header, but Kim Jin Hyeon’s outstretched hands saved it.
In the second half, the Iwata Manager brought on Adailton, with intent to level with Cerezo, which pressurised the Lotina-side. That said, In the 51st minute, Cerezo scored the second goal. Bruno Mendes positioned upfield got Maruhashi’s pass and took the throw-in near the rivals’ goal line. Fujita sent a long through pass toward the centre of the goal when Rodrigues failed to clear, Mizutani dashed to slot it home.
“Jubilo deployed more players upfield” (Lotina’s comment). Against the attack-minded rivals, Cerezo played in defence more than the first half. With Kim Jin Hyeon's fine save, Matej Jonjic and Yasuki Kimoto shielded the formidable Top 2, Adailuton and Rodrigues’s numerous attacks. Until the end, Cerezo never gave away any chance to Jubilo. Kim Jin Heyon commented later: “We consciously covered each position together which created a solid defence.”
Cerezo, who survived the onslaught, had a chance for a counter-attack. In the 81st minute, Bruno Mendes, who worked Leandro Desapato’s pass, faced one on one against the goalkeeper, but the chance was far from the third goal. The game ended with a 2-0 win. Cerezo finally achieved three consecutive J1 League home wins, breaking the sequence of a series of defeats. They got momentum for the Levain Cup play-off round 2 against FC Tokyo held in four days.