Emperor’s Cup vs Albirex Niigata: Match Report

3 points with Kiyotake’s 2 golazos and Kato’s goal in 3 consecutive games. Dodged Niigata's counterattack and advanced to Emperor's Cup Round 16.

After a 11 days interval from the latest league match, Meiji Yasuda J1 League Section 22 against Sagan Tosu. The third round of the Emperor's Cup was held with Albirex Niigata from J2 at home. Cerezo Osaka changed 3 starters from the Tosu match. GK, DF line and anchors were kept, and Adam Taggart, Toshiyuki Takagi, and Haruki Arai were in the starting lineup. For Haruki Arai, who joined from FC Tiamo Hirakata in July with a loan deal, this match was his first appearance and first starter after his joining.

In the game, Cerezo was on the offensive from the beginning. Right after the game started, Adam Taggart made the decisive form from the right side and got a scoring chance in the 7th minute. He reacted to Riku Matsuda's cross, but the shot was slightly out of the frame. In the 21st minute from a good start, they took the first goal that they wanted.
In this match, Hiroshi Kiyotake, who was a starter as an attacking MF, received the ball on the left side, dribbled off the opponent's DF and scored a vividly carved shot from 45 degrees to the left. In the 27th minute, Haruki Arai, who played on the right side, broke through vertically, fed a cross and made a chance. Then they got an additional point in the 30th minute. Riki Harakawa, Kiyotake, and Yusuke Maruhashi connected the pass at a good tempo, and Adam Taggart jumped into the cross of Maruhashi. This was cleared by a DF, but Kiyotake, who picked up the second ball, scored a low trajectory middle shot.

Cerezo brought the game to the ideal development, but they had pinches twice just before the end of the first half. However, GK Kim Jin Hyeon made a good save for the one, and Ryuya Nishio, who was in the cover of the GK, cleared another and escaped from losing the point. From the start of the second half, Niigata came out in a counterattack with three substitutes at the same time, and Cerezo also replaced Riku Matsuda with Hinata Kida on the right side back.

As soon as the second half started, an accident happened to Cerezo. Kiyotake hurt his calf and left the pitch. In the 57th minute, Jun Nishikawa, who took the place of Kiyotake and entered the attacking MF, had a chance from Takagi’s dribble, but he was not able to finish the shot. In the 59th minute, Adam Taggart and Takagi were replaced with Mutsuki Kato and Motohiko Nakajima.
Cerezo carried the game with an advantage in the second half as well, but in the 66th minute, the right side was broken and lost the point. The score difference became 1 point, but immediately after that, they took the third point and widened the gap again.
When Nakajima, who was highly motivated in the match against his former home, went to the press, the cleared ball that the opponent DF kicked hit Nakajima, and it went in front of the goal. Kato pushed into the goal where Nishikawa's header was bounced off by the GK.

In the 79th minute, Harakawa's direct FK flew to a critical course, but was blocked by the GK’s good defense. After that, Cerezo seized repeated chances such as Nakajima's dribbling, but they could not take the fourth point. Then, Niigata scored in the additional time in the second half. When it became one point difference again, Niigata made an onslaught just before the end of the game, but the time was up without allowing a tie.

The match, which was held with spectators including Niigata supporters, became the development that they could not relax to the end, but Cerezo, who had the advantage of Kiyotake's two goals scored in the first half, won 3-2. They marked 12 official games without losing, and advanced to the Emperor's Cup Round 16 where Sagan Tosu is waiting.