J1 vs Kashima Antlers: Match Report

The last match of "Lotina Cerezo". Finished in 4th place that still has the possibility of ACL participation.

The Meiji Yasuda Seimei J1 League had finally reached its final stage. Cerezo Osaka, who was in 4th place with 59 points, got into the home of Kashima Antlers, who was in 5th place with 58 points. Cerezo had changed two starters from the previous section. Yasuki Kimoto was back for the first time in two games, and Toshiyuki Takagi was in for the first time in 21 games. They started with 3 backs, and Tatsuhiro Sakamoto entered the right wingback.

At the beginning, Cerezo struggled to hold the ball, but after enduring Kashima's set play, in 6th minutes, Hiroshi Kiyotake turned to the front with a skillful trap from Naoyuki Fujita's pass and shot. Following the first chance, Kimoto and Eiichi Katayama approached to the goal with heading from the set play.

After that, when they were pushed in by Kashima again, in 16th minutes, they had a pinch due to being broken the right side. However, Everaldo's shot hit the post directly. Nothing was happened. There was a long time that Kashima kept the possession, but Cerezo took a firm defensive position and managed without letting Kashima make an offensive form. They were not able to connect the ball that they stole, and although they had few chances, they succeeded in finishing the first half with no lost point.

In the second half, Manager Lotina replaced Takagi with Riku Matsuda. Matsuda entered the right wingback, and Sakamoto moved up one row and entered the corner of two shadows. In the first half, Cerezo was not able to make a shoot scene except in the early stages, but in the second half, they mass-produced the opportunities taking the behind of Kashima who played forward.

In 51st minutes, Yuta Toyokawa came out to Sakamoto’s pass and made the first scoring chance, and in 55th minutes Sakamoto threatened the opponent's goal from the dribble breakthrough. In 60th minutes, Kakitani Yoichiro entered the 1-top position on behalf of Toyokawa, and immediately after that, Kakitani jumped into Matsuda's sharp cross, but it didn't fit. In 65th minutes, Kiyotake took the back from Fujita's pass, and Kakitani reacted to Kiyotake's cross and got a scoring chance, but the shot flew over the crossbar.

After that, although Kashima took the possession, like the first half, Cerezo, who held at [5-3-2] in defensive, did not give space to the opponent and bounced back the cross. Then, the scoring chance came again. In 79th minutes, Kakitani dribbled, came out with Matsuda as one-two and made 1-on-1 with the GK. It was completely the way to take behind the DF, but the shot was blocked by the GK. It seemed like they had missed the opportunity, but 4 minutes later, Cerezo finally moved the game.

Katayama competed for Kim Jin Hyeon’s goal kick, and Kiyotake picked up the loose ball and fed to Kakitani on the front line. Kakitani's shot was blocked by the DF, but Matsuda picked up the bounced ball, switched from his right foot to left foot and threw a splendid control shot. This was sucked into the goal and Cerezo succeeded in the opener.

It was as ideal development that they got the lead at the last minute while blocking any goals in defensive. The hands of the clock were approaching the end every moment, but in 90th minutes, the loose ball that the DF competed against Kashima's long ball was picked up and scored by Everaldo, and they were caught up to the tie. In the additional time of the second half, Cerezo received Kashima’s hard attack but Kim Jin Hyeon repeatedly showed his super save and protected the goal. The last shot was save by the post and the time was up. The game ended with 1-1, but Cerezo kept the 4th place without the reversing the ranking. As this result, Cerezo has got qualified the participation for the next season’s ACL, depending on the outcome of the Emperor’s Cup. The last match of Manager Lotina in Cerezo, who had been focusing on strengthening the team for 2 years. At the end, smiles spread to the players, staff and supporters, and the curtain of “Lotina Cerezo” was closed.