Official Match Report: Vegalta Sendai vs Cerezo Osaka (J. League Division 1 Matchday 32)

In order to turn the tables and reclaim their chance of remaining in the J-league, Cerezo made a trip to Yurtec Stadium to play away against Vegalta Sendai. The game opened with a bad start, seeing the Cerezo side concede consecutive goals in the 3rd and 17th minute. This was going to be a “tough match,” as Okuma put it. However, the cherry-blossom coloured warriors showed themselves in their brightest colours today, ferociously reeling their way back into action. In the 38th minute, Kusukami swiftly dribbled past the defenders, broke through, to make a cross, which Sugimoto put home, after a deflection from the goal keeper. The second half saw Cerezo take absolute control of the pitch. The team were able to utilise the attacking strength they had been seeking for the past three weeks throughout the pitch, with the defenders holding a high line and players actively stealing the ball for counter-strikes. Ohgihara comments: “If we play our games like we did in the second half, we would be given more of a chance to score goals, and aggressive football of that sort would have put us in control of the ball.” In the same vein, in the 72nd minute, an attempt at the Sendai goal in the second half, a cross from Sugimoto found Nagai, who, with the help of a slight deflection by a Vegalta defender, headed the ball home. It was 2-2. Now the tables were even. Gambling for more goal scoring chances, Cerezo were to find a trap waiting for them in the 88th minute. By making good use of a sudden gap in centre field, Sendai’s Ramon Lopes managed to score with a stunning shot. And in an instant, Cerezo’s wits were put to the sword. Kusukami, after the match had ended, was heard saying that “our supporters are all out here to cheer us on. If we break, the game is over.” The team, however, did not break, but, instead, played to the very end, without ever showing a sign of dejection or despair. Then! In the 93rd minute, a ball from a treacherous angle left the boot of the substitute Cacau, whizzing its way into the Sendai goal. Ending the day with one point by equalising may not be the most satisfactory of results. However, coming back from a losing position twice will have an impact on the team’s performance in the next two games. A fighting spirit that turns the tables is what will keep Cerezo in the league. “Although we may need to rely on help from others in the remaining two matches, we must concentrate on winning” (Ohgihara).