Levain Cup SF 1st Leg vs Urawa Reds: Match Report

Despite allowing the opponents to get the opener, Yamada's goal at away stadium made the score tie. Aiming for advancing to the final with winning in the second game at home.

The J.League YBC Levain Cup semi-final against Urawa Reds, which is competed by the results of two games, home and away. Cerezo Osaka, who challenged the first round at away, changed the starting lineup from the latest league match, the Meiji Yasuda J1 League Section 31 against Oita Trinita. Hiroto Yamada was in the one of two FWs, Hiroaki Okuno entered the anchor, and Yusuke Maruhashi and Riku Matsuda returned to both side backs.

At the beginning, since Urawa took possession, Cerezo set the [4-4-2] system to focus on defense. They showed a concentrated entry, but a little bit of a slow response in defense against Urawa's left side. In the 12th minute, Urawa's left CB Alexander Scholz dribbled up, and Ryosuke Yamanaka became free and fed a cross, which led to Cerezo's conceded goal. Kasper Junker entered between Ryuya Nishio and Ayumu Seko and scored. After that, the match progressed at Urawa's pace, but Cerezo also took the back of the side starting from Tatsuhiro Sakamoto and increased the number of attacks. In the 37th minute, in the scene where they received a counterattack from a pass mistake on the front line and Ataru Esaka came out, Nishio returned and responded to it. He blocked the almost second goal of Urawa. Then, in the 39th minute, the first scoring chance for Cerezo came in this match. When Mutsuki Kato pressed from a high position, the ball that bounced off the opponent's DF's clear reached Yamada. Yamada threw a nutmeg shot through the opponent's DF, but it was blocked by GK's good save. Although Cerezo allowed Urawa for the first move, they caught the pace from around the water break and finished the first half.

In the second half, Cerezo set the higher pressing positions, and aggressively tried to steal the ball from the front line. In the 52nd minute, their press was escaped, and they had the pinch that Kasper Junker caught the ball from Yamanaka’s cross again, but here Seko covered it approaching Junker with his body. Then in the 56th minute, they created scoring chances in quick succession. Riki Harakawa picked up the second ball and fed a pass to Takashi Inui, and to Maruhashi, and Kato headed to Maruhashi’s cross. Although it was in a broken form, the shot unfortunately hit the crossbar directly. After this, picking up the second ball again and breaking the right side this time, Inui crossed from a deep position. Yamada matched it at the near, but the shot hit the crossbar again.

In the second half, Cerezo launched thick attacks and finally caught up to the tie in the 66th minute. It became the starting point where Seko stole the ball from Kasper Junker, and when he quickly sent the ball to the front, Sakamoto received it on the right side and dribbled. Sakamoto, who carefully watched the DF's movement to be wary of the left foot cross from the turn, entered vertically and raised the cross with his right foot, and Yamada, who had successfully disappeared from the CB's sight, shook the net from the far side. Cerezo, whose momentum did not stop, had another scoring chance in the 69th minute. Yamada cut the opponent's back pass and made a pass to Kato, and Kato directly shot, but it was prevented by the GK. In the 74th minute, Kato, who received a diagonal pass from Maruhashi, turned around and shot. Although it drew a strong trajectory, it was also punched by the GK and hit the crossbar directly. It did not become a winning goal.

At the end of the game, Urawa strengthened the offensive again, and Cerezo was in a time of patience. In the 83rd minute, Kim Jin Hyeon showed a good save to Kasper Junker’s critical shot. Cerezo was attacked to a deep position just before the end, but all players protected their goal using their body. The match ended 1-1 as it was. In the difficult development that Urawa scored the opener, they caught up to the tie with Yamada’s goal at away stadium and connected this result to the second round at home aiming for advancing to the final.