ACL vs Kitchee SC: Match Report

A vivid reversal play! The winning streak in the opening round, with Adam Taggart’s first goal and Tiago’s goal in two consecutive games.

AFC Champions League, Group J Section 2, Kitchee match. Cerezo Osaka, aiming for consecutive wins, changed one starting member from the first match. The system was the same as the previous match [4-2-3-1], and Motohiko Nakajima took the place of Toshiyuki Takagi as his first starter in the ACL and entered the left side half.

In the first match against Port FC, Kitchee, who won 2-0 by sticking to the solid defense and counterattacks, challenged in the same way in this section. From the beginning, Cerezo took the possession against the opponents, whose all players played in their own half in defending except for Dejan Damjanović who was a lone striker. As in the first match, Yusuke Maruhashi took a high position on the left side, and Tatsuhiro Sakamoto took the width on the right side to receive the ball. In the 2nd and 4th minutes, starting from Sakamoto, they attacked from the right side, and in the 18th minute, Adam Taggart, who came out running to the Maruhashi’s diagonal feed, made a shot. It met well, but slightly flew over the crossbar.

Cerezo recorded a possession rate of over 70% and attacked in the opposite half. In the 25th minute, Hiroshi Kiyotake and Nakajima broke through in the center, and Adam Taggart came out to Kiyotake’s pass and made a chance at the end. And in the 38th minute the biggest scoring chance came in the first half. Riku Matsuda, who responded to Kiyotake's pass, took the back of the right side. It was a completely broken form, but directly returned pass did not match Adam Taggart who came in the center. Then, immediately after this, they lost a point in the play that started with the kick of the opponent GK. The kicked ball was held in the front line, and Kitchee took the behind of the left side, and Dejan Damjanović caught the returned cross and scored. Just before the end of the first half, Motohiko Nakajima cut in from the left side and made a good middle shot, but it was slightly out of the frame.

Although they took possession, they could not break the systematic defense of Kitchee and received a goal from the counter. Cerezo finished the first half in an unpleasant development, but in the second half, they pushed the opponent at a higher position, raised the awareness of the middle shot and approached the goal. In the 49th minute, Hiroaki Okuno threw a bold shot, and in the 53rd minute, Sakamoto's cross hit the crossbar and bounced off. In the 62nd minute, a manager Levir Culpi replaced Nakajima with Yoshito Okubo. He formed two-strikers with Adam Taggart and increased the thickness of the receiver of crosses, and this change was directly linked to the score. In the 69th minute, while surrounded by two DFs, Sakamoto broke through vertically with his feint that he is good at. When the GK flipped the cross that Sakamoto fed with his right foot, Adam Taggart approached it and scored, and Cerezo caught up with the tie. Moreover in the 71st minute, when they were passing the ball around at a good tempo in front of the goal, Tiago, who was free, received it and made a long shot from a distant position. A sharp ballistic shot with an out-turn repelled the GK’s hand and was sucked into the goal, and Cerezo succeeded in reversing.

After that, there was an accident in which Adam Taggart, who scored his first goal after joining, got injured and replaced, but Cerezo advanced the hands of the clock while holding the ball, surpassing Kitchee's counterattack. In the last minutes, Tiago repeatedly bounced off the opponent's cross and the match ended. Although suffering, they won the victory by reversing and marked the winning streak in the opening round of the group stage.