ACL vs Guangzhou FC: Match Report

Comfortably won with 5 points, which showed the overall strength of the team! A big step forward to break through the group stage in 1st place.

In the AFC Champions League Group J Section 5 against Guangzhou FC, Cerezo Osaka challenged the match by replacing the starting 10 players from Section 4 against Port FC, excluding Ryuya Nishio. GK Dang Van Lam played in this tournament for the first time. Hiroto Yamada and Riki Matsuda were their first starters in this tournament.

In the 1st minute of the start, Riki Matsuda jumped into Yuta Koike's cross and made a chance, and in the 4th minute he stole the ball at a high position and made a short counter. Riki Matsuda shot from Yamada's pass and approached the goal. Cerezo took the possession and even if they lost the ball they quickly stole it back at the high position, dominated the game and got a scoring chance in the 9th minute. Koike and Toshiyuki Takagi broke the left side, and Riki Matsuda headed to Takagi's cross, but unfortunately it hit the crossbar. Cerezo continued to attack after that and had scoring chances in a row in the 28th and 30th minutes. In the 28th minute, Yamada's shot on the outside reacting to Takagi's cross was slightly out of the frame, and in the 30th minute, Naoyuki Fujita made a pass cut at a high position and quickly fed it to the center, and Riki Matsuda picked up the drop of Mutsuki Kato. It was 1-on-1 with the GK, but the shot went over the crossbar.

The frustrating development, that they were not able to make a goal with the repeated chances, continued but in the 33rd minute, the long-awaited first goal was finally scored. It was Kato who jumped into Riki Matsuda's cross at the near side and brilliantly reacted to it with his volley. Since he had regret due to not taking the scoring chances in the last two games, he showed his joy and relief after the game saying that "I entered the game with the feeling that I will definitely score today. I’m so happy about scoring goals and winning.” Cerezo, who attacked even after the opener, had good opportunities from the left side in the 39th and 40th minute. They were not able to get the additional points, but they kept taking the initiative and finished the first half.

In the second half, a mistake caused a pinch at the beginning, but an additional point was marked in the 53rd minute. When the opponent's set piece was repelled and the counterattack was activated, Koike dribbled up a long distance and broke through the left side with a one-two with Takagi. At the end, Taishi Matsumoto shook the net with his left foot reacting to the returned negative pass. Cerezo was able to relax mentally with this goal and started the goal rush from here. In the 67th minute, Tiago, who entered from the second half, reacted to Koike’s CK and scored the third goal with his header. And another goal was made in the 72nd minute. Fujita stole the ball at a high position, Riki Matsuda fed a direct vertical pass, and Matsumoto received it and calmly poured it into the goal from the exquisite trap.

At the end of the game, there was a scene where they were attacked by Guangzhou, but with the good cover of Yusuke Maruhashi, who entered the pitch in the 75th minute, they never allowed the opponents to break the goal. Then, the fifth point to make doubly sure was scored in the additional time in the second half. Yamada dropped the pass of Fujita, who competed and won in the middle field, with heels, and Kato, who came through the back of the opponents, passed the GK through and calmly poured it into the goal.

It was a battle in which the members were changed significantly from the previous section, but the players who stood on the pitch, such as Kato and Matsumoto with 2 goals and Riki Matsuda and Koike with 2 assists, showed their own characteristics. "They showed that the power of the whole team is at a high level," as Manager Levir Culpi praised, they showed their fulfilling content and also got a big harvest of raising the level of the team, with the result of victory. With this, Cerezo have increased their winning points to 13, and take the lead in breaking through the group stage in 1st place, and will challenge the final section with Kitchee of 2nd place in the next section.