Cerezo headed into Kashima Antlers’ home, aiming for this season’s first three consecutive wins. After 5 minutes, Cerezo Osaka had the upper-hand with slick passing, which tempered the foes’ offensive play. In the 10th minute, they put in a dominant performance, controlling, feinting and exploiting space. The first chance fell to Cerezo. Behind the defenders, unmarked Kota Mizunuma met Hiroshi Kiyotake’s cross with his shot at the far side, but it was saved by Kashima goalkeeper Kwoun Sun-tae.
It brought a corner-kick for Cerezo. Matej Jonjić, who met Naoyuki Fujita’s corner kick, scared Kashima with his header. Again, in the 13th minute, a corner kick was given, another great chance. Mizunuma feinted the defenders and headed it towards a goal, but it went wide. In the 20th minute, Bruno Mendes ran into the right flank, Hiroaki Okuno picked up the loose ball after the goalkeeper parried Mizunuma’s cross, and passed it to Bruno Mendes, who fired a shot toward the goalkeeper-less goal posts, but it was cleared by the defender at near the post. Moments later, Okuno shot from a loose ball, which went over the bar.
In the first half, Cerezo looked dominant, although Kashima created a few chances. In the 43rd minute, after Kim Jin-hyeon's kick, Cerezo stretched the play. Fujita passed the ball to Kiyotake, to Kimoto, onto Yusuke Maruhashi. Bruno Mendes cut through behind the defensive line after receiving Maruhashi’s supreme pass and brilliantly jinked defenders to dribble forward to shoot, but it was off the target.
“With the tactics”(Mizunuma’s comment), Cerezo who threatened Kashima’ goal, “struggled to score a goal”(Bruno Mendes’ comment).
Cerezo entered the half time with frustration.
Early in the second half, Kashima stepped up the gears, approached the goal line and endeavoured to mix up the Cerezo defenders. Maruhashi felled Leandro Desábato in the penalty area. Immediately, a penalty kick was given. The taker, Seljinho placed it on the spot in the 50th minute, which led Kashima to take the lead.
Cerezo, who were desperate for a counter-attack, could not play as well as their first half due partially to their impatience. On the contrary, “Kashima started to play confidently.” (Manager Lotina’s comment). When Cerezo intended to a counter-attack, Kashima exploited space behind the defensive line. Cerezo unwittingly allowed the foes an additional goal in the 72nd minute. After Kim Jin Hyeon took a throw-in to Reandoro Disabato who was positioned close to the rivals’ half, Yyohei Shirasaki cut in and blasted a mid-range shot in.
Manager Lotina urgently brought on powerful attackers, such as Toshiyuki Takagi and Yoichiro Kakitani. But it did not work. In the 76th minute, Fujita cut in and lobbed a ball towards goal after Bruno Mendes’ pass, but it was saved by the goalkeeper Kwoun Sun-tae. Until the end, Sun-tae’s stronghold was colossal and robust, although Takagi ventured with his shot in the last minute.
Cerezo performed as their football concept in the first half, with Mizunuma commenting that “positioning and passing were smooth.”
Also, they proved to have fulfilled their tactics. Kiyotake later said: “We played hard, sharing the same purpose, that is, how we can make space when they were pressing forward,” but it did not bring any goal. They conceded two goals by their mistakes, which led to an intolerable defeat, but Bruno Mendes said later: “we have to look up, not look down.”
Next week, Cerezo plays a YBC Levain Cup play-off round 1 match against FC Tokyo at the away stadium and after three away games, they host a league match. Cerezo is expected to step forward after profound reflection of today’s game.