J1 vs Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo: Match Report

Achieved two consecutive league wins, after the new organization was launched. Raised the ranking by one and moved up to 11th place.

It was Section 19 against Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo, which was the second match in the league game with the new organization. Although it was a tough schedule in away stadium after a two days interval from the Round 2 of J.League YBC Levain Cup quarter-finals, Cerezo Osaka won 3-0 with goals from Naoyuki Fujita, Riki Matsuda, and Yoshito Okubo. They have lined up with points with Sapporo but surpassed the goal difference and moved up one place to 11th place.

In the end, Cerezo won by a large score difference, but the first half was a difficult development. While they were struggling to carry the ball forward in front of Sapporo who came with a strong press, Sapporo connected passes well and Cerezo turned to be defensive. Even with this situation, it was Cerezo who got the first scoring chance. In the 21st minute, after Tatsuhiro Sakamoto stole the ball in the press from the front, Mutsuki Kato dribbled and shot, but it did not become a goal due to the good block of the opponent GK. Then immediately after that, Cerezo lost the ball for the press of the Sapporo and was in a big pinch. However, this time GK Kim Jin Hyeon stood out and did not allow the goal. After that, Cerezo continued to be forced to be defensive, but they endured the time for patience without being broken at the final line and made chances in quick succession just before the end of the first half. In the 41st minute, Ryuya Nishio stole a ball at a high position, Hiroto Yamada connected it to Kato and Kato approached the goal and got CK, which led to the scoring chance. Fujita headed the kick of Riki Harakawa. Nishio picked up the loose ball that was bounced to the DF and shot. It was barely blocked by the GK, and Ayumu Seko shot the repelled ball but it hit the crossbar. Unfortunately they missed the goal here, but in additional time, it was another scoring chance again from CK. Riku Matsuda directly kicked the cleared ball of Harakawa’s CK to Harakawa again, and then it was Fujita who jumped into the cross of Harakawa who fed it, being relaxed. A dynamic header was absorbed into the net, and Cerezo succeeded in the opener.

In the second half, Manager Akio Kogiku replaced Riki Matsuda and Takashi Inui in place of Yamada and Motohiko Nakajima. Then, these two immediately responded to their expectations. Inui spent the time to attract the opponents on the left side and pulled the flow, and then in the 51st minute, Riki Matsuda jumped into the near side and scored with his header reacting to the CK of Harakawa. Cerezo scored additional points early in the second half. In the first half, Sapporo had attacked mainly with their moving force, but in the second half, shifted to the attacks to make use of the height of foreign players due to the substitution. In the 63rd and 72nd minutes, Cerezo was threatened with Jay's header, but Kim Jin Hyeon made a big save for the first one and the second one hit the post and nothing happened. In the 82nd minute, Cerezo put Tiago in the CB, moved Nishio to the left SB, and took measures against height. They escaped from the pinches and scored the third point to decide the game in the 88th minute. Jun Nishikawa, who received Nishio's throw-in, crossed from dribbling. Inui picked up the clear ball of the DF and calmly sent a pass to Okubo, and Okubo evaded the DF, who came to stop him, and shot as he aimed. He pierced it into the goal and scored his 191st J1 goal in total.

Cerezo won the match 3-0 as it was. In the post-match summary, Manager Kogiku mentioned the defensive side. "I think that this was the result of all the players covering the difficult times against Sapporo, who boasts one of the best offensive forces in the J.League. I really appreciate their dedication to keep the team’s discipline,” he said, praising the players who fought tenaciously and did not allow the opponent’s goal. This section, where Manager Kogiku's command was right on the spot. The scenes where the players and the bench were rejoicing together every time they scored a goal, represented the current state of the team. The next section will be a rematch with Sapporo at home after a two days interval. They bring back the harvest and challenges they have gained in this section and aim for winning in three consecutive league matches.