The last of 7 consecutive official games. Cerezo Osaka challenged the first round of the J.League YBC Levain Cup playoff stage with Shonan Bellmare. They played against Shonan in the latest league match as well, and changed the starting lineup from that match for two players. In place of Adam Taggart, who was away due to the activities of the Australian national team, Bruno Mendes entered the solo FW position, and Hirotaka Tameda was in the left half.
In the league match, Cerezo took possession from the start and entered the opposition half, but in this match the pressure from the front of Shonan was strong and it was not possible to build up as expected. In the 5th minute, Shonan made a scoring chance with a header from the cross, but GK Kim Jin Hyeon caught it. He blocked the shot with his good save. Even for Cerezo, “It was predictable that (Shonan) aggressively aimed to score the goal at away” (Manager Akio Kogiku), and so they responded the opponents without rush, then Hiroshi Kiyotake got a scoring chance to make a header from Ryosuke Yamanaka's cross in the 12th minute. It did not become the opener because it was blocked by the GK, but he made a chance. After that, the match progressed without losing balance with each other. In the 34th minute, Matej Jonic shook the net with a header from Riki Harakawa's FK, but it was no goal due to the offside. The first half finished at 0-0.
In the second half, Cerezo started defensively before the momentum of Shonan, but Kiyotake and Harakawa started to receive the ball as time passed, and Mutsuki Kato, who participated in the middle, also entered the game well and regained the flow. Then, in the 76th minute, there was a big chance. Immediately after the pinch was over, they launched the counterattack, and Jean Patric, who came out to Harakawa's pass, made use of his speed to break through the side. Kato and Seiya Maikuma were also running inside, but the cross was prevented by the returning Shonan DF. They also had another chance from the short counter in the 79th minute. Harakawa stole the ball in the middle range and Kato came out to Kiyotake's pass, but unfortunately the shot was blocked. At the end of the game, Cerezo completely grasped the flow of the game and succeeded in moving the game in the 81st minute. It was Koji Toriumi who matched Kiyotake's CK. He took the DF off and headed with a high hitting point, and Cerezo took the long-awaited first goal. After that, Satoki Uejo got a chance in the 86th minute and Kato got another in the 90th minute. While they were trying for the second point greedily, the game was over.
"We all had shared that it was the moment to try to attack when the opponents lost the balance, while we were setting our defensive line with stepping back to some extent but of course also aiming to steal from the front line” said Manager Kogiku after the match. Like his words, during the time when Shonan had momentum, they endured firmly with defense, made a chance from the counter at the end of the game when the opponent’s movement was slowing down, and scored the opener from the set piece. As the commander praised that "The ability to read the game development, and sharing the image with everyone. We have come to be able to do these things much smoother”, they demonstrated their skill in the game and won the first game of the playoff stage. Also, during the half-time of this match, Ayumu Seko, who was completely transferred to Grasshopper Club Zurich (Switzerland) in January this year, appeared on the pitch. He also greeted the supporters. There, he talked about the current situation in Switzerland, his thoughts on Cerezo and his strong resolution for next season, and a big applause was sent from the stadium.