Sota Kitano's first professional goal decided the game. Won against Kashima at away stadium, and achieved the consecutive wins from opening in Levain Cup!
Cerezo Osaka got into the away stadium and challenged the Section 2 of the J League YBC Levain Cup group stage with Kashima Antlers. For starters, 7 players changed from the latest league match, Meiji Yasuda J1 League Section 2 against Kyoto Sanga F.C. Riku Matsuda, Ryuya Nishio, Hiroaki Okuno, and Hikaru Nakahara continued to play on the pitch.
In the 1st minute of the start, Sota Kitano had an immediate chance. Also in the 6th minute Kitano came out behind the opponent and had a one-on-one with the GK, but the shot was blocked. The score did not move, but when Cerezo entered the match in good shape, they succeeded in scoring the opener in the 12th minute. Kitano skillfully received the cross from Ryosuke Yamanaka while carrying the DF on his back, turned around and shot. Brilliantly the shot went through the near side and shook the net. For Kitano, who just signed a professional contract on February 25, this score was his first professional goal. "A wonderful goal that strongly made me feel his high potential," as Manager Akio Kogiku praised him, it was an amazing shot.
Similar to the match against Gamba Osaka in the first section of the group stage, two FWs of Satoki Uejo and Kitano actively pressed the opponent's CB, and they carefully passed around the stolen ball and made chances simply aiming at the space. In the 31st minute, Uejo, who took the back of the right side from Kitano's pass, brought it and shot from a place with no angle. A sharp trajectory went to the goal, but unfortunately it hit the crossbar. Although they were not able to score the additional points, they did not give Kashima a scoring chance and the first half ended with Cerezo taking the initiative.
In the second half, Kashima’s pressure increased and Cerezo turned to the defensive, but the DFs firmly stretched their bodies in the set-pieces and to the crosses from the side, and they did not allow Kashima to score a goal. Especially one who was outstandingly making strenuous effort was Nishio, who had the captain's mark in this match. In addition, Kakeru Funaki, who entered the CB following the Gamba match, also handled the opponent's powerful attack players without fear.Like feeding good passes to the front line taking advantage of the high accuracy of his kicking, he fully demonstrated his own potential to break his new ground. In the second half, they struggled to make their own offensive time due to the difficulty to connect passes, but the players on the pitch were not impatient and showed a match with unified intention.
"Keep one point firmly without being impatient. We were defending while asking for a chance of a short counterattack, when the opponent was in the forefront," like Tokuma Suzuki said after the match, as time passed, Cerezo also made some chances from a quick attack. Especially in the 80th minute, the shot by Hirotaka Tameda from the flow that Mutsuki Kato competed on the front line was a decisive form, but it was blocked by the big save of the GK and did not reach the goal.
Still, Cerezo on this day did not lose concentration until the end. They did not allow Kashima to equalize and achieved their first clean sheet game in this season. In the difficult situation of the away game against Kashima, they won a splendid victory, which Manager Kogiku praised, "I'm glad that we were able to make a clean sheet as a result of everyone's hard work." Kitano, whose first professional goal was the final point, expressed his impressions of his first professional goal, "I feel happy and relieved (laughs)," and looked ahead with a serious look, "It's important from here."