Levain Cup SF 2nd Leg vs Urawa Reds: Match Report

The final point by Mutsuki Kato. "Kogiku Cerezo" first victory at home, and decided to advance to the final!

The J.League YBC Levain Cup semi-final against Urawa Reds, the Round 2, aiming for advancing to the final. In the nervous atmosphere, the stadium's capacity had been increased to 10,000 from this match, and it made the home feeling more created by Yodoko Sakura Stadium. In contrast to Urawa, who had changed the starting lineup by 5 players from the first round, the same 11 were lined up for the starters for Cerezo Osaka. Hiroshi Kiyotake, who was injured in the Osaka derby, also returned to the bench as his first play in "Kogiku Cerezo",

By finishing the first game at away 1-1, Cerezo was in a situation where they could advance to the final even with 0-0 in the second game, but "We want to advance to the final by demonstrating our soccer that we have accumulated”, Manager Kogiku said on the day before the match. From the start of the game, the players embodied the feelings of the commander on the pitch. With the press of the two FWs and both side halves as switches, the anchor and side backs were also linked to aggressively steal the ball, and they made many scenes to sandwich the opponents in the middle of the field. In the attack, in the 4th minute Hiroto Yamada threatened the goal with a header from Riki Harakawa's CK, and in the 29th minute, Mutsuki Kato came out to Hiroaki Okuno's pass from a quick restart and shot. The two FWs who played an active part in the first round showed a dynamic movement. In the only pinch allowed in the first half, GK Kim Jin Hyeon blocked the opponent's shot with a good save. Cerezo took the initiative and finished the first half 0-0.

In the second half, Cerezo set the higher position of the press and made more scenes to steal the ball from the front line. On the other hand, there were also scenes where they had pinches, but when they raised their consciousness toward the goal more than the first half, they succeeded in the long-awaited opener in the 53rd minute. Tatsuhiro Sakamoto received the pass from Kim Jin Hyeon, and Okuno expanded to the left side, and then it was Kato who jumped into the cross of Maruhashi on the near side. His shot was once blocked by the GK, but he picked up the bounce by himself and shot again. It hit the GK's body and was sucked into the goal. In the first round, the uniform number 29 felt regret that his shot hit the crossbar twice. He expressed joy screaming with a goal to dispel that thought. After scoring, including bench members, they celebrated the birth of Sakamoto and Yuta Koike's first child with a cradle performance.

Cerezo, who gained momentum, approached the goal in a row, as Harakawa threw a middle shot in the 58th minute, Kato made a volley shot from Sakamoto's cross in the 61st minute, and Yamada shot from the short counter in the 65th minute. However, while they were struggling to get the second point here, they turned to be on the defensive against Urawa, who had changed their position due to the substitution. They got pinches from the shot of Kasper Junker in the 77th and 82nd minute, but Kim Jin Hyeon covered the former with a good defense, and Seko Ayumu blocked the latter. With tenacious defense, they did not allow a tie goal. Cerezo also sent in Yoshito Okubo, Kiyotake, who had returned to the match, and Riki Matsuda, to maintain the strength of the front line, and tried to take the second goal. At the end of the game, Cerezo endured the attack of Urawa, who had sent Tomoaki Makino on the front line to set up the “power play”, then used the time well on the front line and won 1-0. Cerezo, who won the semi-final with 1 win and 1 draw, made a wonderful advance to the final of the Levain Cup. The stage of the final match is Saitama Stadium 2002. On October 30, they will challenge the big battle for the third crown in the history of the club.