Match Report: Cerezo Osaka vs Ehime FC

Manager's Comments

HALF TIME
・Although we don't have a problem in defence, we have to be careful not to get drawn out too much.
・We maintained a triangle shape in attack.

FULL TIME
"I think we were doing really well, before we scored the goal.
After that I think the players had an overwhelming desire not to lose, and this had a psychological effect that meant it was difficult for them to bring the game to the opposition.
But it's only natural that this kind of psychological effect will develop in a situation like this, and the most important thing is that we got the win, and I'd like to thank the players for that.
There are some games where you feel like even if you lose some good things can be taken from it, and others where you win but you feel that overall the match lacked something, and I think today was one of those matches. I'm not satisfied with the way we played after we scored."

Q: What is your assessment of the 1-0 score line today?
"I think something really got to the team psychologically after we took the lead.
When you have a run of bad results, where we were up 1-0 at home, then conceded two goals and ended up losing, the players start to develop this psychology where they were too focused on not losing. It's something that we shouldn't have, but I can understand why they felt that way. I really want to praise the players who stuck to it through this all and got the result."

Players' Comments

■ Teruyuki Moniwa
"It feels good (to finally get a win at home). I feel like we were able to bring out the quality in the whole team, and in the individual players, without over-thinking it. (In the end it felt like we were very crowded, but) this is the way that J2 is played. We have to meet the opposition on their turf, and beat them at their own game, we have to press the same way and not lose. We were up 1-0, but if you let the opposition play their own game this can quickly turn into 1-1. What I mean is, we can't let them beat us at their own game. It's that simple! It shows the superior quality of the team and the individuals, to stand up and not lose in situations like this. I think we'll really improve."

■ Jumpei Kusukami
"It wasn't a great goal, it was a great ball. It was just well timed, so I managed to get behind the defence, which was good. (How did you time the shot to get it over the keeper?) The ball was coming to me. I wasn't sure what I should do at first, I didn't think it would go in, but the bounce was good, and I just kicked it. It worked out well in the end. This was a match we really had to win, so I'm glad I scored."

■ Takahiro Ohgihara
"(The pass you sent through to Kusukami, that led to his goal, was that how you intended it?) Yes. That's something we've been working on in training. We talked about putting the ball in straight when I have possession, and we got it working well in training, and it transferred over to the match situation too.
(Do you think you played especially well in the first half?) Yes. The first half was good, but in the second half I think we needed to think a little bit more about how we play the game. I think there were some good passages of play, when we had the ball. We need to hold onto the ball for longer, and play the game at our pace, so when we get in a tough situation like in the second half we can fix it.
(Was this because of the high press the opposition showed in the second half?) Even when the opposition was pressing, we were able to string together 2 or 3 passes, and get behind them easily. We have to keep doing that for a little longer.
(It felt like the attackers had real momentum when they were pushing forward, didn't it?) Everyone was pressing really high in the first half, but they dropped back in the second half, and maybe that was a result.
(After about a month without a victory at home, how does this feel?) Because we haven't won at home much recently, we have to make sure we do from now on, there aren't any matches we can afford to drop. We want to make sure we win."

■ Hotaru Yamaguchi
"(You overpowered the opposition in the first half) I don't know what to say. We won, so that's good. There were times when they closed us off, so I think that's something that we have to improve.
(Yamaguchi, you made a lot of quick runs ahead of the defence today.) No, I don't think I made that many. In fact, I have the feeling that I didn't do that enough today. We were on the defensive, so there's nothing we can do about that.
(How do you feel about the fact that you managed to keep a clean sheet at home, despite conceding many late goals recently?) We got the result, we got the win, and I hope we can repeat that in our next match."

■ Keiji Tamada
"(In the first half you really overwhelmed the opposition, is that the kind of football that Cerezo wants to play?) To a certain extent, but when you score the first goal you're able to seize the initiative. I think we dropped back a bit in the second half, so it would be good if we could play the way we want to play for the full 90 minutes, then it'd be easier for us to bring the match to the opposition. I think that's something we need to talk about.
(Especially in the first half, there were lots of times when the players were quite close together, exchanging passes, making the kind of plays that we hadn't seen from you in a while, and were able to send a long ball in to link up with the strikers) This is something we're good at, something I can do, so if we do that more, we should be able to play our own style of football. I think we're working as a team.
(To you think today's win is the start of something more?) It was at home, and we haven't been able to get good results at home recently. In this match, winning was everything. Of course we can't be satisfied with 1 win, if we don't put together streaks of 2 or 3 matches, then the teams above will get away from us. I want this team to keep looking up, to keep aiming higher."

■ Ariajasuru Hasegawa
"(What was particularly good about today's result?) We all felt a strong desire to win at home, and we really tried and in the end came away with the win, which gives the team real confidence. But we need to work on being able to play our way out of tough situations like we encountered at the end of this match, to work as a team to get the results, and to score not just one but two or three goals.
(How do you deal with balls being repeatedly put over the front line?) It's important that you don't just rush into situations like that, you have to hold onto the ball right until the very last, and then the opposition can't do anything. And Kim Jin-Hyeon and the defenders in particular really played their part in protecting our lead. I know it's hard to do it all the time, but I'd like to see an improvement in the way we hold onto the ball, and the way we use that time when we have the ball."

■ Tatsuya Yamashita
"(How does it feel to get the win at home?) The back line really held together - I hope we can carry this through to our next match.
(In the first half you had a near-perfect match, where the opposition didn't even get a shot in) I think we had a really good sense of where we needed to be, and everyone was defending really well. In the second half there were times when we were closed off, but we held out until the end.
(The way you played in the first half, with players close together exchanging lots of short passes, then building up to long balls - is that kind of balanced game the way you'd ideally like to play from now on?) It is an ideal, but I think it's also a tactic we worked out based on today's opponent and their system of playing. But we want to carry these good points forward, no matter who we face from now on.
(In the second half the game became more difficult, with the second balls not being picked up and the opposition pressing high. What caused this?) The midfield was mostly empty. At times like that we need to focus on the distance between players, and make sure we're communicating with the defensive midfielder."

■ Noriyuki Sakemoto
(Do you feel relieved to finally get a win at home?) We were at a critical point, and we worked through that. We had to start winning at home in order to fix this. The biggest thing I feel on winning is a sense of relief.
(Do you feel like you were able to outplay the opposition in the first half?) Yes. The manager always tells us that in order to play the way we want to play as a team, and get the result we want, we need to hold onto the ball and make our own chances, and that's what we did in the first half.
(Was the opposition's high press an issue in the second half?) We knew it would come, and that things would get a little bit tougher for us, and we had to think as a team to decide how we were going to overcome it, and I think in the end we were able to play good football.
(Recently in situations like you saw in the second half, the team has often conceded goals, but you managed to keep a clean sheet today) It was a game of fine margins, and of course we had our own chances. But we didn't concede any goals, and we have to make sure we keep doing that."

■ Takamitsu Yoshino
"(When the game started getting tougher in the second half, the focus shifted to the defence.) Yes, but today we were trying to act as a bridge, to help the team link together and try to create some time to put some plays together, but the defence came closer than we thought, and even though it was quite tight behind, all we could do was kick. I think we have a bit more that we need to do.
(When you were passing, did you feel it was hard to link up?) I'm not sure... As far as I could see we had a lot of time, but things got quite tight so we just had to kick the ball. I could see after kicking it that it was a bit tight, so I think that's something we need to work on. We take the ball and kick it, and then they take it, over and over - I think we were quite closed off. We didn't have any time on the ball. I was there to link up, but it was hard to get the timing for that right. We did what we can do for now, which is run - but I also feel like we need to tighten up in defence.
(This is the first time this season that you've tasted victory at home.) Yes. It feels good to win, so it would be good to carry that through to the next match too.

■ Yuta Someya
"It felt really good to get the 1-0 win. Even if we can only score once, we managed to score, but now we need to focus on what we do after that. We need to focus on keeping the opposition from scoring, and playing our type of match, in order to win. I think we're going to keep improving the way we move the ball in response to the state of the game, and the way we counter the opposition's playing style. I think if we keep looking for ways to do that as a team we'll be able to move up the table. We've been falling into this pattern in the first half where we concede one or two goals and go on to lose the match, even after leading, and because we had that in our head we erred on the side of safety, but it would be better if we could judge when the opposition was coming at us and go around them. Winning is the most important thing, especially to us now, so the fact that we won today was a really big thing. After the match the manager told us to focus on those positive aspects and learn from them. Many supporters come to see us play at home, and it feels really good to get a win in front of so many fans - that's why it's so important to win at home."

■ Kim Jin-Hyeon
"(The second half was pretty tight, but you managed to keep a clean sheet and hold out for the win. Is this good heading into Korean National Team duty?) Yes. They came quite close in the second half, but we didn't concede, everyone did really well. It gives you real confidence to get a win, and to keep a clean sheet, just before heading out to national team duty, it feels really good to head to international duty with a win.
(In the first half Cerezo was constantly on the attack, so much that the opposition didn't get a shot in. Is that the ideal situation?) Yes. There was a lot of pressure from up the front, so the opposition barely made it into my penalty area. If the whole team, all 11 players, right from the front have that defensive awareness, the team will be strong, and we'll win more matches like this 1-0 victory.
(Do you feel a sense of relief to win at home and have the supporters cheering for you again?) No, that's not true. Of course we need to get the results at home, we all feel that way, including me. We want to keep getting the results at home. But we can't only win at home. We have to keep going, and keep improving.
(Heading into the World Cup qualifiers, are you focusing on the national team?) It's not just for the World Cup qualifiers, it's the same whenever I play for the national team, I always do my best."

■ Pablo
"I'm very happy that we got the win. It's important to win at home. It was a mentally difficult game. We haven't had many wins lately, so it felt good to finish this match with a win. I think this match was decided in the first half. I'm happy that everyone worked together, and we were able to take that chance in the first half. In the second half we weren't always able to move the way we wanted to, and Ehime really managed to rally together, but we were able to hold on to our lead. The good thing about today is that we attacked well, but we also stopped the opposition from scoring.
(Was this because of the Churrasco you cooked for your team mates?) We had a really good dinner party recently, which made me feel closer to my Japanese friends and team mates, so I think that had a bit of an influence. I think everyone is working well together. And today that's starting to show."

Postscript

In the 17th Sec. of the Meiji Yasuda J2 League, 9th-placed Cerezo Osaka returned home for the first time in three weeks to face 10th-placed Ehime FC, with both teams heading into the match on 23 points. The home side emerged 1-0 victors after an early Jumpei Kusukami goal. It was Cerezo's first victory in four league matches, and their first victory at home since defeating Kyoto Sanga FC in round 10, on April 29th, but the cheers from the cherry-blossom coloured supporters once again rang around Yanmar Stadium Nagai.

With many changes forced due to injury, top scorer Forlan was sidelined for the first time this season. Cerezo entered this season in a dire financial situation. Even so, the team in pink knew that they needed a win today to keep them in the running for promotion back to J1. "We were at a critical point, and we worked through that. We had to start winning at home in order to fix this," said Noriyuki Sakemoto after the match. That strong will showed right from the first half.

Cerezo dominated the first 45 minutes of play. "There was a lot of pressure from up the front, so the opposition barely made it into my penalty area," said Kim Jin-Hyeon after the match, and Tatsuya Yamashita added "I think we had a really good sense of where we needed to be, and everyone was defending really well." The opposition were unable to register a single shot in the first half. Sakemoto added "The manager always tells us that in order to play the way we want to play as a team, and get the result we want, we need to hold onto the ball and make our own chances."

In the first half against Ehime, Cerezo were able to string together short passes, and put precise through-balls past the opposition defence, and their swift and precise attack was too much for their opponents. When asked about this feature of their gameplay, Keiji Tamada said "This is something we're good at, something I can do, so if we do that more, we should be able to play our own style of football." Cerezo were able to show their inherent strengths, winning the ball back even when dispossessed, and not allowing Ehime any chances. On top of this, manager Paulo Autuori spoke of his hopes that Cerezo would develop their awareness across the length of the pitch, and their ability to use the width, in order to develop more attacking options. It is 27th minute, Takahiro Ohgihara's long ball found Kusukami in attack.

After the half ended 1-0, Ehime started the second half in an entirely different manner, and Cerezo were forced to withstand their attacks. "I think the players had an overwhelming desire not to lose, and this had a psychological effect that meant it was difficult for them to bring their game to the opposition," said manager Autori after the match, to which Kim Jin-Hyeon added "we were unable to keep the ball, so we started getting physical." In the second half Cerezo were unable to find the movement they managed in the first half, and only registered a single shot on goal. Cerezo also found themselves in several tight situations, right up until the end. Despite conceding many late goals recently, Yamashita claimed "In the second half there were times when we were closed off, but we held out until the end," showing how much the team has grown. Defender Teruyuki Moniwa was brought on in the 75th minute, to strengthen the team, who managed to finish the game without conceding a goal. For the first time this season, Cerezo were able to hold on to a 1-0 score line until the end of the match.

Despite the victory, Hotaru Yamaguchi pointed out areas in attack that could be made better. "There were times when they closed us off, so I think that's something that we have to improve." "Of course we can't be satisfied with 1 win, if we don't put together streaks of 2 or 3 matches, then the teams above us will get away. I want this team to keep looking up, to keep aiming higher," added Tamada after the match, emphasising the fact that Cerezo mustn't get carried away by this victory. Even so, Cerezo are hoping to build on this victory, and particularly the fantastic first half. In order to do so, Cerezo must keep pushing, and aim for more victories.