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Review: Cerezo Osaka 2-1 Tokyo Verdy (J1 MD3)

  • TEAM

Shinji Kagawa's first goal of the season and Leo Ceara's second consecutive goal gave the team its first win of the season.

Six days after their last match against Kashima Antlers, Cerezo Osaka returned home to face Tokyo Verdy in the third round of the Meiji Yasuda J1 season in search of their first win of the season. There were three changes to the starting lineup from the Kashima match. The top three of Leo Ceara, Capixaba and Lucas Fernandes were all out, with the latter two also coming off the bench. Satoki Uejo played at center forward, Hirotaka Tameda at left wing and Jordy Croux at right wing.

As in the previous two games, Cerezo held the ball from the start, but there were times when their passes were caught by Tokyo Verdy's organized press. However, goalkeeper Kim Jin Hyeon was able to avoid the pressure with an accurate long feed. Cerezo gradually took control of the game, and in the 14th minute, a good opportunity presented itself, when Hirotaka Tameda fired a shot, which went just wide. In the 20th minute, Cerezo avoided the pressure and created a chance on the right side through Shinji Kagawa, and Uejo shot. Another chance in the 21st minute. Tameda played a one-two with Kyohei Noborizato and sent in a cross that was met by Hiroaki Okuno but couldn't find the back of the net. Cerezo had chances but could not score, but their defense allowed almost no shots on goal. Then, in the 42nd minute, the long-awaited first goal came. Funaki's long pass was deflected by Okuno and Croux found himself one-on-one with a defender on the right flank. Kagawa was on hand to meet the ball at the far post and head home. Although the number 11 had not played in the first two matches of the season, "he has been working hard in training and practice matches. Everyone feels that. It is great for the team that such a player is rewarded," said Kagawa. Croux was able to take advantage of the opportunities that came his way and produce solid results.

Cerezo was on the offensive from the start of the second half, as Kagawa advanced into the penalty area, and Maimikuma fired in a shot. Noborizato also fired a middle range shot from the second ball. However, in the 54th minute, a goal was conceded after a single pass behind a high DF line. It was once called offside, but VAR results showed there was no offside and the goal was allowed. In the 64th minute, another chance was created on a counter, but in the 65th minute, a player was sent off for his second caution of the match. With Cerezo now numerically superior, manager Akio Kogiku saw this as the moment to win the game, and made two substitutions in the 66th minute. Leo Ceara and Vitor Bueno were substituted for Uejo and Okuno. In the 69th minute, Bueno and Kagawa connected, and finally Croux's cross was met by Maikuma, who fired in from close range. Cerezo continued to hold the ball, but were unable to break down Tokyo Verdy's 4-4-1 defense. A free kick was awarded to the visitors in the 86th minute, but goalkeeper Kim Jin Hyeon made a good save to keep the ball out of play. Cerezo had a good chance to score in the final minute when a corner kick from the left flank led to Funaki's header. The goalkeeper made a good save, but Ceara was able to get a foot on the ball in the box and convert the penalty. Cerezo scored a last-minute winner from the spot. The Cherry Blossom ace had been concentrating on his treatment this week after picking up an injury in the previous game. He thanked the trainers for their support, saying: "Thanks to them, I was able to get on the pitch."

There was more than 10 minutes of extra time in the second half, partly because the game was stopped midway through for a goal and a penalty kick, but after the goal Cerezo brought on Koji Toriumi and held on with a strong defensive performance. "We wanted to win the game anyway. We wanted to turn the players' efforts and performances in the last two games into three points. That's what I was thinking. A lot of things happened in the game, but I am happy that we were able to get the three points," Kogiku summed up the match. Despite many injuries, the whole team pulled together to get the first win of the season. "Winning a game makes the team grow. I think today was such a game. I am confident that we can grow even more from now on," said Kogiku. Aiming for back-to-back wins, the team will take on Sagan Tosu in an away game next week.

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