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Review: Kashima Antlers 1-1 Cerezo Osaka (J1 MD2)

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Number 9 scored his first goal of the season, but conceded a late goal from a set piece. The two teams shared a point in Kashima.

The second match of the Meiji Yasuda J1 League season took place at the home of Kashima Antlers. Cerezo Osaka made one change from the opening match, with CB Koji Toriumi resting and Ryuya Nishio making his first start of the season. The team was eager to get three points in this match to build on the confidence gained in the opening game.

Cerezo struggled to get to grips with the long ball early on, but after 10 minutes they began to pick up the pace. As in the previous match, left back Kyohei Noborizato moved inside to play like a double volante with Shunta Tanaka. While they moved the ball well, the five up front, including Shinji Kagawa and Hiroaki Okuno, interacted well and brought it to the finish. In the 12th minute, Seiya Maikuma played an incisive pass into the near zone, and Okuno was on hand to cross for the first chance. In the 17th minute, a sharp counter-attack off an opponent's CK led to Leo Ceara, Kagawa, and finally Lucas Fernandes, who fired in a shot that was saved by the goalkeeper. Cerezo, who had been playing with Kashima with their skillful passing, had another crucial chance in the 24th minute. After Tanaka had set the tone, several players got involved, and finally Kagawa's cross was met inside the box by Capixaba, who fired home with his left foot. In the 39th minute, Lucas Fernandes, who had played well in both the opening game and this match, was injured. Despite the unexpected incident, Cerezo played a one-sided game in the first half, limiting Kashima to zero shots.

In the second half, however, Ranko Popovic, who had been in charge of Cerezo in the past, made changes and Cerezo were unable to maintain the control they had in the first half. The second half began with the introduction of Yuma Suzuki, who created chances and time for his team, and in the 55th minute, Kashima had a chance to score when a sideways pass was broken up, but his shot went wide. The tide was turning in Kashima's favor, but it was Cerezo who took the lead. In the 58th minute, Funaki received a pass from goalkeeper Kim Jin Hyeon and made a vertical pass with his right foot, Okuno carefully dropped the ball and Noborizato received it with an excellent pass into space on the left. The ball was then passed to Hirotaka Tameda, who had come on midway through the first half, who took the ball deep to the left and crossed to Leo Ceara, who met the ball inside the box with a direct shot from a single trap. Leo Ceara met the cross from inside the box and fired a direct shot from inside the trap to score his first goal of the season in front of a full house of Cerezo supporters. The game was over soon after. Funaki once again combined with Tameda and Okuno on the left flank, and this time Okuno's cross was headed home by Leo Ceara, but this time his shot went just wide. Leo Ceara went to the bench after 70 minutes to make his own substitution.

Then, in the final 15 minutes, Cerezo was pinned down in front of its own goal by an onslaught from Kashima. Cerezo, with captain Tatsuya Yamashita coming on and a five-man backline, along with goalkeeper Kim Jin Hyeon, withstood Kashima's CK attack without conceding a goal. However, in the 85th minute, Cerezo was awarded a free kick in front of the goal and Kashima scored to tie the match. Kashima attacked again, but Cerezo was able to keep the ball out and time ran out without conceding a goal. As in the opening match, Cerezo were unable to convert the lead into three points, but they did manage to get a point in the opponent's home.

"I knew that we had not won against Kashima, so I came here hoping to win. I thought we could win the championship only if we could change the jinxes of the teams we are not good at, so I was very determined to win," Noborizato looked back with regret. "After the game, we immediately discussed areas for improvement, and now we want to link them to the result," he said. "We were able to do what we wanted to do from the first half. We were caught out by a set piece, but the result is not something to be pessimistic about," said Tanaka. The next match against Tokyo Verdy, back at home, should bring a result, and we hope to get our first win of the season.

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