J2 vs Renofa Yamaguchi FC: Match Report

14,532 fans were in attendance for Cerezo’s game away to Renofa Yamaguchi on Thursday, with Renofa setting their highest ever attendance on the new ‘Mountain Day’ national holiday.

A temperature of 37.8 ℃ made it the hottest day of the year so far in Yamaguchi as well, and in that heat Cerezo Osaka came out on top by two goals to leapfrog Fagiano Okayama into third place.

Cerezo started the game with three at the back and a focus on defence. Tatsuya Yamashita, Teruyuki Moniwa, and Yusuke Tanaka provided the firm base in the centre, with Yusuke Maruhashi and Riku Matsuda on the flanks. Cerezo were beaten by Yamaguchi on Matchday 13 by allowing Yamaguchi’s right back Ryuta Koike to penetrate in behind their defensive line, so with that in mind Maruhashi, who faced Koike on that flank, was tasked with keeping an eye on that threat here.

In just the 8th minute Cerezo scored the first goal of the game. Kenyu Sugimoto received a long pass from goalkeeper Kim Jim-Hyeon before Keiji Tamada picked up possession. It looked like the chance had gone as the opposition defenders closed in, but Kunimitsu Sekiguchi latched onto a half clearance and found the net. Two day before the game Sekiguchi had said, “Even if they have more possession than us we will threaten them on the counter attack”. His first goal of the season came about exactly as Sekiguchi had predicted, and this goal reinforced Cerezo’s plan to try and add to the scoring by launching counter attacks.

After the first goal Cerezo still allowed Yamaguchi to have more of the possession, but the defenders fought hard and never gave the opponents the chance to shoot. Cerezo’s attacks continued to come mainly on the counter, and in the 26th minute they went close again. Sugimoto received the ball from Matsuda on the right flank and crossed to Tamada, who turned and shot with the defenders behind him. His effort went close but was denied by the keeper. Cerezo kept their concentration and continued to defend well against Yamaguchi’s counter attacks. There was one scare in the 46th minute after a Cerezo corner, but Matsuda tracked back well to snuff out the danger.

Cerezo started the second half of the game well and applied pressure with several corner kicks. Midway through the second period Renofa were allowed a few chances to get shots off from spaces in and around the area, but the defenders stuck doggedly to their opponents and they struggled to register any attempts on target. Yamaguchi did have one big chance in the 76th minute, but Kim Jim-hyeon did very well to deny Hideya Okamoto.

It took until the 86th minute for Cerezo to finally score again. Substitute Noriyuki Sakemoto started the move with an acrobatic volley out to Sugimoto on the right flank who controlled well and crossed into the area, where Yamaguchi was arriving at the near post to convert with a clever flick with his heel.

Yamaguchi almost struck back in the 90th minute but Tanaka brought the attack to an end to make sure that Cerezo finally picked up all three points for the first time in four games.

That was a relief but the next game is coming up in just three days and so the players weren’t celebrating too much after the match. They know that the next game against Matsumoto Yamaga is hugely important.