Match Report: Cerezo Osaka vs Consadole Sapporo

Manager's Comments

“Today’s game was extremely well played – right from the beginning.
The strategies and tactics used in this game saw us get our job done and play a tough game throughout the duration of the match. For that I would like to praise the players.
It is a true shame that we conceded a goal, though. We lost the ball on a mindless play, and that ended up costing us. In the past we have lost goals in a similar way – costing us winning points, in some cases. In order to make the most of the moments we’ve spent thinking about such mishaps, I would like to once again tell the players that we must absolutely avoid conceding goals.
Better than our performance, though, was the support of our fans. Today’s game was a good example of the ‘players’ and ‘fans’ coming together as one, playing tough and cheering on the side to the very end.”

Q: It seems the more the team plays, the better it becomes at attacking. How did you find the side’s teamwork in today’s attacking scenes?
“Somebody who knows the game of football well will tell you that there is no point in playing if you give us on your beliefs simply because you could not produce any results. If one holds a certain concept and belief, then continuing with those is of fundamental importance – as anyone who plays the game of football will be able to tell you. Today saw these two aspects of our game realise themselves in offense when we saw some positive feedback from our attacking half. However, we cannot let ourselves get carried away with this victory; the team’s new attacking squad has taken a step forward, but we must remember that this is our first win [since that change], and we must make sure we turn this one win into multiple back-to-back victories.
On top of that, before the match I demanded the players be mentally stronger in their games – to foster a spirit among the team members that aims for wins on the field. I believe they brought that strength with them to this match.”

Players' Comments

■ Yuzo Tashiro
“As a starting member for the third game in a row, I really want to produce results when I play a full game. Being able to produce [a goal] in the first half allowed me to really relax into the match, and though I wanted to score a second, Tama-san (Keiji Tamada) took away a magnificent second goal on the back of a great set piece. Today we picked up a rewarding three points.
(Q: Tell us about the set piece) When Pablo passed me the ball I would have been wide open. I calmed myself, made sure the ball followed the course I wanted it to take, aimed, and went strong. It’s great that the ball went in the direction I wanted it to.
(Q: Looking at the assist you gave Tamada, do you think you have managed to become an integral part of the squad?) Yes, I do. The ground was excellent today, and though I cannot make up any excuses for what happened in our last game, I was able to score and bring out [the ball] and see everyone around me. Tama moved well, and things had been taking shape well since our training. That all came out in the game, and from now if our relationship leads to us scoring goals, then we are sure to be creating a better team.
(Q: Had you felt aggravated by the fact that the last two games were scoreless draws?) Certainly. As a forward I was unable to score, despite the efforts of the players in defence, and despite the chances I had at scoring in both matches. I am truly relieved that I was able to score today.
These three games have been extremely important to me, and though we were unable to win as many times as we had hoped, the tougher players will remain on the side. It is my goal to become one of those players, and in the long-running J2 League the summer games are what decide the fate of a team. So, we have to do our best to secure a position in second place [for automatic promotion to the J1 League].”

■ Keiji Tamada
“(Q: It seemed like you had things worked out for that wonderful goal you scored. How did you feel about Tashiro’s performance in that moment?) “Yuzo (Tashiro) and I had agreed to place a lot of importance on the distance between us on the field. From our practice sessions, we gelled well, and bringing that out in a game is a challenge in itself. However, the fact that it showed [as a result] is significant to both Yuzo and I, as well as the team.
(Q: Do you think being able to move about the field with three or four players has given the team a better since of space on the pitch?) Players such as Pablo and Kuni (Kunimitsu Sekiguchi), focused on the centre of the pitch and carried out their jobs in the middle, and stretched the field wide to catch our opponents by surprise. That made playing in attack a lot easier for me. If we had worked closer together, we could have had a better offense. Today I found that I could really count on Hasshy (Hideo Hashimoto), as he communicated with me on the pitch and told me what to do in defence. Extremely reliable. He a genuinely experienced player, and having him in midfield is a great benefit for the team.
(Q: It seemed like all the players on the field were communicating with each other fairly well.) Sure. However, it’s meaningless if we don’t keep it up.
(Q: This was your first goal at Kincho Stadium. Tell us about the atmosphere of the stadium when you scored.) I love Kincho Stadium. Being able to score and see the team win were both critical to me, and I strongly believe that you have to play football your own way at home. It’s also extremely important that we won at home.”

■ Noriyuki Sakemoto
“Our teamwork in attack, the number of passes we exchanged, great offenses from great defensive work – all went well. We were able to see both Yuzo (Tashiro) and Tama (Tamada) in action in attack, and the team’s concept of playing the sides of the pitch and switching between sides really took shape. Our ability to score two goals in the first half was a huge help, and it made playing the rest of the game easier. (How did you feel about both strikers scoring?) It stimulates the team, and makes us want to see them score more and more goals. (How did winning feel like?) We were able to win at a time when we discussed the importance of winning after back-to-back ties. It seems like the goal is less about balancing out the team, and more about winning as a team.”

■ Kunimitsu Sekiguchi
“Scoring in the early stages of the match, and stealing an extra goal provided us with an excellent first half. The goal we conceded was really a goal that we should not have given away to the other team. Things would have been easier for us if the score had remained 2-0. However, when the score becomes 2-1, a single goal can influence the entire course of the game, which is why we shouldn’t have let ourselves fall into such a situation. However, from that point we managed to muster enough strength to score another goal. Our ability to score three goals against a rival team is super important. It would be great if we could decrease the number of unnecessary give-away goals over the summer. Our goals were fantastic. Personally speaking, I wanted to put more energy into teamwork up top. However, our defence did extremely well, which helped me realise that it is good to enter a game knowing that you can score.”

■ Hideo Hashimoto
“For now let me say that we spent lots of time thinking about a substitute for Hotaru (Yamaguchi’s). As a result, I thought that winning would lead us to our next victory. Thankfully, Yuzo (Tashiro) and Tamada were able to shape up their attacking in offense, and Pablo was able to play to his heart’s content. For me, I feel that I muddied the game slightly, as I was involved in the slip-up that lead to the goal we conceded in the beginning of the second half. However, the two attackers in front fixed our problems for us once again. Our opponent’s pace shifted after we scored our third goal and everyone became calmer. Our passing was thought out, and we were happy to bear the burden of the pressure. We also stopped running from our opponent, and that was great to see.
(Q: You invigorated the players in attack by creating time for the team to move around in midfield with Ohgihara.) As it was fairly hot, the other team had a difficult time regaining the ball. As we had played a lot of long balls, our opponents spread themselves out to defend against that. (Going on that, did you then decided to connect the ball to those around you, in order to lead on the other team?) Yes. The coach also mentioned that, and Pablo and the manager can both speak the same language. So, we were able to move the ball around with an understanding of what was to be done.
(Q: How was it to make the starting line-up and play your first fall game?) It was a lot less demanding than I imagined it would be. Though the first half was a bit taxing, it was bearable – and nothing like what I had heard it would be. We were helped by the fact that the other team seemed more exhausted than us. We had predicted that that would be the case [before the game]. It was thriller.”

■ Tatsuya Yamashita
“The game was played in a way that our defenders were defending well and the team could expect a goal up front at any moment. Scoring twice in the first half made playing against Sapporo so much easier. (The number of short counterattacks increased, don’t you think?) Everyone worked hard, and after scoring we kept our minds on how to connect the ball so as to get ourselves a counterattack. We defenders need to look at the footage of the goal we conceded once more, and study what went wrong. I want to keep our defence line aware of any gaps by having all the players communicate with each other during the game.”

■ Masaki Sakamoto
“(Q: Tell us about your first appearance in a team match since your promotion to the professional team.) It was clear what I needed to do – though I only had a limited amount of time on the pitch, and there was a gap between us and the other team. All I could do was push up toward the goal through the middle. I made sure to put pressure on the other team when they had the ball. That said, I would like to make this appearance count toward something in the future. It’s important that there is a next time [to appear in a match]. What matters now is how many times I get to play in a match, and I want to be able to make the team proud of playing me in a game, in order to connect to the next matches.
(Q: Did you find it difficult having to play all alone in your position?) Not really. Actually, I completely committed myself to my role and stopped worrying about making mistakes.
(Q: How does it feel to taste victory for the first time as a professional player on a professional team?) I’m really glad that I was included in this game.”

■ Yuta Someya
“Being able to score a goal at such an early stage in the match makes the game easier to carry. And everyone rode that wave, and [as a result] was able to play well. We did not need to concede a goal. (You seemed to be in constant communication during the game.) It’s vital that players talk to each other in that way during a game. It’s something I hope continues, and helps form a stronger team. Everyone is improving their game, and it shows; it’s amazing how our game has taken shape.
(Q: Does a goal by a player you want to see score help the rest of the squad ‘ride the wave’?) Yes, it does. Since the king is here (Tashiro walks past), why don’t you hear it from him yourself. (Laughs)
Honestly, though, his effort – even if he doesn’t score – makes everyone else want to push themselves to work harder … “Thank you, Yuzo!!” (Laughs)”

■ Pablo
“We had a great game. The team needed a win, and we had many supporters come to our home ground to support us, which was terrific. Since I moved to Japan, I have told myself that my goal is to score and make passes. Though I was unable to score today, I’m happy that I made two through passes and helped bring about the third goal. Contributing to the team always puts a smile on my face.
(Q: What did you think of the joint collaboration between the two attackers in front?) They always had their heads raised, and in midfield and attack keeping your head up always helps make you visible to others. With the first goal, I knew the ball the defender has kicked away was coming. So, I’m glad I was able to make it to the right spot on time. At that point I dribble to the right and opened up some space for Tashiro, who I then passed the ball to.
The second goal was a perfect one-two touch play, where Tamada ran diagonally into a space and I was able to pass the ball to him thanks to his great movement at the time. Seeing these moves appear in our game has made me realise that we are playing the right type of football.
Our resolution has been to be promoted into the J1 League. Instead of ending in 3rd-6th place, we want to finish in 1st or 2nd and, if possible, become league champions. If we continue playing the way we did today, we will certainly make it into 1st or 2nd place.
(Q: Your through pass was fantastic.) Since my body came into contact with, I thought I would be able to pull in some defenders if I held onto the ball. Since I knew Tashiro was on his way, I made the through pass. The fantastic part was the great pass that was made to Tamada afterward.”

Postscript: Cerezo grasp the fruits of their ongoing efforts! Tashiro’s first goal and two goals for Tamada bring victory against Sapporo!

The 23rd sec. of the Meiji Yasuda Life J2 League saw Cerezo Osaka play on their home ground of Kincho Stadium against close rivals Consadole Sapporo, who trailed one point behind the side. With Yuzo Tashiro’s first goal since his inclusion on the team and two goals from Keiji Tamada, a first since his 2nd sec. match against Omiya Ardija, Cerezo won the match 3-1. This marked the team’s first win in three games, and brought them once again into fourth position, with 38 points on the tables.

Prior to the game, manager Autuori remarked that “our ability to achieve such a performance comes from our continued sense of stability in defence. Continued efforts require time, even in offense. My faith in the players currently on our side remains unchanged. We didn’t rush simply because there were times when we could not score; instead we held our head’s high and did what we ought to do.” Though the last two games ended in scoreless draws, the coach’s hopes were answered when the same attackers (Tashiro, Tamada, Kunimitsu Sekiguchi, and Pablo) answered fulfilled their coach’s belief in them – in their third consecutive game together.

The team’s efforts first bore fruit in the 17th minute. Pablo stole the ball when a clear mistake was made by a Sapporo defender. The number 7 player, who had attracted the attention opposition defenders, made an exceptional heel pass to Tashiro, who “made sure the ball followed the course I wanted it to take, aimed, and went strong” with a swipe of his right foot. The shot flew straight past former Cerezo goalkeeper Gu Sung-Yun. The number 19 shirt, who said “as a starting member for the third game in a row, I really want to produce results when I play a full game,” set the pace for the Cerezo squad with his goal.

In the 37th minute another goal was scored. On this day, Cerezo played Hideo Hashimoto on the starting line-up for the first time, due to multiple cards preventing Hotaru Yamaguchi from appearing. His pass work with Takahiro Ohgihara gave the side the opportunity to once again push the team’s attack button, with a vertical pass from Ohgihara into a gap in the field. Pablo, on the receiving end of this pass, then broke the opposition’s line with his one two pass with Tashiro, and Tamada collected Pablo’s last pass for a stunning left-footed goal that shook the net.

After ending the first half on a score of 2-0, Ken Tokura, who had been substituted into the game in the second half, headed the ball into the back of the Cerezo net in the 56th minute, bringing the difference in goals down to one. As Autuori commented: “We lost the ball on a mindless play, and that ended up costing us.” The team faced the prospect of a downhill slide. However, any clouds of dismay were cleared by the two attackers who scored in the first half. In the 62nd minute, Yusuke Maruhashi received a diagonal pass on the left-hand side, and Pablo then broke through the defenders and finally brought the ball to Tashiro. At that moment, Tashiro made a fantastic heel pass, with his back to the goal. Tamada obliged and scored a tremendously well-aimed curved shot, bringing the lead back to two goals. This goal practically brought the game to a close.

After the goal, Sapporo attempted to force the game with a number of power players, and toward the end of the game managed to threaten the Cerezo goal on a number of occasions. Some fine saves by goalkeeper Kim Jin-Hyeon and a strong rallying together of the side’s defensive forces kept Sapporo from scoring. The game ended with the first home victory since the team’s match against Tokushima Vortis in the 19th sec., and the blow of the whistle saw the Cerezo chant ‘Cerezo (Sakura) Mankai’ resound throughout Kincho Stadium.

Opposition manager Barbaric admitted the effect of the humidity and consecutive games had on the team’s sluggish movement on the pitch. Despite such pronouncements, one must understand that both sides were faced with the same conditions. Under such circumstances, Cerezo came together as a team, and not only worked hard to the very end of the match, but, by stirring up their attackers, made an important step in winning against competitors for a spot in the J1 League. Tashiro affirmed that “today we picked up a rewarding three points,” and “in the long-running J2 League the summer games are what decide the fate of a team. So, we have to do our best to secure a position in second place [for automatic promotion to the J1 League],” clearly indicating his resoluteness for a Cerezo summer counteroffensive.