Cerezo Osaka faced the 5th qualifying round game at home against Yokohama F-Marinos on 1st April, after 2 consecutive victories in regular games. In Cerezo’s starting members, they had Hotaru Yamaguchi who played full time in recent 2 Japanese International games, and also GK Kim JinHyeon who was back after one month since he played at the opening game against Jubilo Iwata. However another Japan International midfielder, Hiroshi Kiyotake couldn’t take a part by his injury, as well as defender Tatsuya Yamashita who injured in the previous match against Sagun Tosu, so Kunimitsu Sekiguchi joined in the middle section, and Yasuki Kimoto made starting member debut at J1 in centre back.
The ‘Cherry Blossom Pinks’ took initiative from the first half, by efforts from Kunimitsu Sekiguchi, and side players like Yoichiro Kakitani, Riku Matsuda and Yusuke Maruhashi. Especially both side-backs, Matsuda and Maruhashi denied opponent’s key players Saito and Martinus’s potentially powerful actions, and really showed a performance that met the commander’s expectation with steady defence.
Though no goals in 1st half, Cerezo Osaka played a very “Yoon Cerezo” game, i.e. hard working, hard pressing, aggressive soccer on both defence & offence.
At beginning of the 2nd half, there was a threat by Yokohama F.M.’s set play, however by Kim JinHyeon’s fantastic save, Cerezo didn’t allow goals from opponent. Then they succeeded their first goal that they were wishing for. At the 59th minute, Maruhashi fed a cross by his left foot from right side corner kick. Then Motoki didn’t miss the chance when a clear ball was up in the mid-air during vied for the ball in front of the goal. He made a volley shot by his right foot, “the ball stayed in the air long enough to give me a time to think, so I thought ‘clean strike then hit the ball to inside the goal’.” said the Blossom Pinks’ number 15 later. The ball was sunk in to Yokohama F.M.’s goal in front of the Pink supporters. Motoki who also broke the opening goal in the game against Yokohama F.M. at Lavain-Cup, excellently broke the deadlock here again in the extra important J1 game.
There was a scene of serious threat by opponent’s counterattack right after this goal, however Cerezo endured over by the whole team’s tenacious defence, then managed an additional goal. The chance was made by a substitute Mitsuru Maruoka who came on from the 70th minute. The young hard worker Maruoka reacted to the pass made by Yamaguchi, then he was pushed down in the penalty area when he was aiming the goal and earned a penalty kick. The ace Kakitani made the execution with cool manner. The Blossom Pinks’ number 8’s long-waited goal made the team 2 points lead.
Cerezo also kept their concentration on defence until the last whistle, reacted well to the opponent’s formation changes, and made the clean sheet. At the end, they defeated Yokohama F.M. 2-0, and have achieved to the consecutive 3 victories in regular games at home. It is the first consecutive wins in the league, and that made them being at 8th position in the league at this stage.