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Review: Cerezo Osaka 1-1 (PK 4-5) Shonan Bellmare (Emperor's Cup Round of 16)

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Emperor's Cup Round of 16 Ends in PK Defeat After Intense 120-Minute Battle, Closing the Door to the Championship Title

Cerezo Osaka, with strong determination to win the Emperor's Cup and secure a spot in Asia (ACL), faced Shonan Bellmare at the Yodoko Sakura Stadium in the Round of 16. "The desire to win the Emperor's Cup is powerful and deep. Our big goal is to claim the title and advance to the Asian Champions League (ACL). To achieve this, tomorrow's match is crucial," stated Manager Akio Kogiku with great enthusiasm. Making one change in the starting lineup from their recent match against Paris Saint-Germain FC, Kakeru Funaki replaced Ryosuke Yamanaka, taking the position of left-back.

In the early stages, Cerezo Osaka had a decent start, but in the 11th minute, Matej Jonjic made a challenge in their own right side and conceded a penalty. The opponents converted it, putting them in an early lead. Shortly after, it seemed that Leo Ceara was brought down inside the opponent's penalty area, but the referee did not blow the whistle. Despite continuous attacking efforts from Cerezo, they had a chance in the 23rd minute when Riku Matsuda received a cross from Satoki Uejo on the left side and took a one-touch shot. The shot was on target but was cleared by the opponent's defender, denying a goal. Another opportunity came in the 45th minute when Jonjic and Matsuda took consecutive shots from a free-kick, but both attempts were saved by the opposing goalkeeper, and they went into halftime trailing by one goal.

In the second half, Cerezo Osaka made a substitution, with Shinji Kagawa coming on for Tokuma Suzuki. Shortly after the restart, Cerezo had a clear chance when Uejo attempted to connect with a cross from Capixaba, but it was blocked by the defenders, denying a goal-scoring opportunity. In the 55th minute, Capixaba again tried to find the net, this time with a header from Matsuda's cross from the right side, but the shot went over the crossbar. As the match progressed, Cerezo struggled to break through the well-organized defense of Shonan, but in the middle of the second half, Shonan also created scoring opportunities, with one shot hitting the post, preventing them from conceding the second goal. In the 79th minute, Jordy Croux made a penetrating run and appeared to be brought down in the penalty area, but the referee once again didn't blow the whistle. With time running out in the 82nd minute, Coach Akio Kogiku made a decisive move, bringing on Ryo Watanabe for Hinata Kida, altering the formation to a more attacking setup. Sota Kitano, who had been part of the attacking duo with Uejo, dropped back, forming a midfield with Kagawa. Then, in the second half's additional time, Cerezo earned a penalty when Capixaba was fouled. Ceara converted the penalty, leveling the score for Cerezo Osaka just before the final whistle.

As the game entered extra time, in the first half, Cerezo Osaka struggled against Shonan's side attacks. However, they managed to keep the scoreline at 1-1. In the second half of extra time, they had a chance when Ceara found an opportunity from Watanabe's set-up. Unfortunately, his shot was saved by the goalkeeper, and they couldn't take the lead. The match remained tied at 1-1 after 120 minutes, and it was decided by a penalty shootout. As the second team to take penalties, Cerezo Osaka had successful shots from Seiya Maikuma, Kakeru Funaki, Ceara, and Watanabe. Yan Han Been, Cerezo's goalkeeper, stopped Shonan's fifth penalty, putting them in a "win if you score" situation. However, Shinji Kagawa missed the sixth penalty. Yan Han Been saved Shonan's sixth attempt as well, but Sota Kitano's shot for Cerezo hit the crossbar. Shonan then scored their seventh penalty, while Haruki Arai's shot for Cerezo was saved by the goalkeeper, ending the match. Despite fighting until the end, Cerezo Osaka was defeated by Shonan in the penalty shootout, closing the door to the title. Coach Akio Kogiku said, "We have 13 remaining league matches, and we will switch our mindset and strive to achieve our goals." In the remaining matches this season, they will focus on the Meiji Yasuda Life J1 League and aim for the top three positions.

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