Review: Cerezo Osaka 1-0 Gamba Osaka (J1 MD31)
Leo Ceara's strike gave Cerezo Osaka their fifth consecutive Osaka Derby win
Six days after ending a three-match losing streak in their previous match against Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Cerezo Osaka headed into the Osaka Derby against Gamba Osaka in the 31st round of the Meiji Yasuda J1 League in search of their first three points in five matches. One change from the Hiroshima match saw Hiroaki Okuno start from the bench and Masaya Shibayama start at right inside half in a 4-3-3 formation. This was Shibayama's 100th J.League game and his first start in the J1.
In the league derby, Cerezo had won four games in a row. Continuing their recent good form, Cerezo attacked their opponents from the outset and took the lead in the 7th minute when Kakeru Funaki dribbled in after a precise kick from goalkeeper Kim Jin Hyeon and crossed for Capixaba. Koji Toriumi received the ball from Kim Jin Hyeon, broke free and passed vertically to Capixaba, who showed great physical strength to dribble forward despite being surrounded by two opponents. From there, he flicked a pass with the outside of his left foot to Leo Ceara, who calmly slid in behind him while keeping an eye on the goalkeeper. The goal, the team's first since the J1 match against Kawasaki Frontale in the 26th round, gave Cerezo the momentum to push past Gamba, and in the 11th minute Satoki Uejo won the ball high up and created a chance, and in the 15th minute Masaya Shibayama received a pass from Jordi Croux and shot with his left foot. The ball was deflected sharply into the box, but goalkeeper Masaaki Higashiguchi made a good save. Although he did not score, Shibayama was active in both attack and defense on the day. He formed a good relationship with Croux and Seiya Maikuma on the right flank, and also played with great dedication in defense. In the 38th minute, Shibayama set up Capixaba, who headed in a cross from Croux, but his shot went just wide. Gamba had only one shot on target in the first half.
In the second half, while Gamba had to make two substitutions at the start of the second half and change the positions of the players, Cerezo's players kept their positions and worked hard, so there were no holes in the defense and Gamba could not create any decisive chances. In the 71st minute, Kogiku made their first change. Okuno replaced Shibayama and Uejo moved up one line to a 4-4-2. Gamba's offensive momentum gradually faded, and Cerezo continued to control the game defensively. In the 75th minute, Kogiku replaced Capixaba with Ryosuke Shindo and switched to a back five. In the 85th minute, Haruki Arai, who came on as a midfielder, broke down the left and crossed. The ball was cleared, but Croux's shot in the box was off-target and the goal was not scored. Cerezo still held on to their one-goal lead and the clock was ticking down. The visitors had a scare in the dying moments of the match when Issam Jebali's shot went just wide, but Kim Jin Hyeon made a great save to deny them the only goal of the match. "It wasn't that difficult, but I kept my concentration and made a good save until the very end," said Kim Jin Hyeon. The number 9, who ran hard despite a cramp in his leg at the end to give his team the win, scored in the away game and in the Osaka derby at home. He also scored his 12th goal, the most in the J1, and was all smiles after the match. "We haven't scored in the last four games, but we've been talking in the locker room and on the pitch about how we can score the way we want to. Today's result in the derby gave us confidence," he said.
When asked about the Osaka derby win, Kagawa said, "I want the fans and supporters to be happy that we won. The support they gave us today was well deserved. We were able to win for them, and I think that is the meaning of the derby. As he said, the supporters created a wonderful atmosphere before the match and played a big part in making the Osaka Derby a great success. Cerezo achieved the "Osaka Derby Double" again this season, just as they did last season. This time, the match was close to an outright victory in terms of performance, and it was a great match that showed the entire team continuing to grow as a team.