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Review: Cerezo Osaka 2-0 Shonan Bellmare (J1 MD5)

  • TEAM

Goals from two Academy graduates led the team to their third win in a row.

Cerezo Osaka welcomed Shonan Bellmare to their home stadium in search of their third win in a row. Cerezo Osaka made three changes to their starting lineup from the previous match. Vitor Bueno made his first start for Cerezo, replacing the injured Shinji Kagawa.

The first half started well for Cerezo, who used the inside and outside of the pitch to their advantage. In the 9th minute, Seiya Maikuma sent a pass to Leo Ceara, then to Hiroaki Okuno, and Okuno fired a shot off the dribble. In the 16th minute, Cerezo had another good chance, again starting with Maikuma, who connected with Bueno, and Okuno shot from Fernandes' cross. However, the shot was blocked by the opposing defense and no goal was scored. Immediately after that, in the 17th minute, the opponent striker Lukian had a good chance after a cross from our right side, but goalkeeper Kim Jin Hyeon made a big save with his foot. In the 22nd minute, Cerezo capitalized on a poor pass from the opposing defender and sent Ceara through on goal, but his final pass failed to reach his teammate. From that point on, the game tipped in Shonan's favor as the first half drew to a close. Cerezo's poor build-up play in their own half allowed their opponents to counterattack, and they were pinned back several times by crosses, but Kim Jin Hyeon again made a great save from Lukian's header in the 32nd minute. Kakeru Funaki and Maikuma also did their best to clear the ball and prevent a goal. "We were patient at times in the first half. We had some problems with counterattacks and restarts from our opponents, but we were able to control the game with everyone in the team, and I think that led to (the victory in) the second half," manager Akio Kogiku said after the match.

In the second half, Shonan were the first team to get a chance. Lukian became the starting point for the attack, and a cross from the right side created a free player on the far side, but once again Kim Jin Hyeon was able to make a body save to prevent the goal. "I tried to increase the chances of blocking the shot with my body, and I think I was able to see (the opponent's) movements until the end and make it," the Sakura's guardian reflected. He also thanked the supporters after the match, saying, "The supporters' voices were loud and passionate from the warm-up. I was also drawn by their enthusiasm, and I was able to tighten my mind."

Cerezo escaped the biggest threat, and from that point on, they went deep into their side of the pitch on both the left and right. The team quickly switched from defense to offense, and after picking up the second ball and pushing forward, they managed to take the lead in the 60th minute. Funaki met Bueno's CK with a header from the far corner. The goal spurred Cerezo on, and in the 66th minute they had another crucial chance. Capixaba's defensive work up front won the ball for Okuno, who headed straight to Ceara on the front line. After Ceara collected the ball, he cut inside on the left flank and Bueno turned Capixaba's cross back to Ceara for the decisive goal. However, the goalkeeper did well to keep out his shot from close range, preventing him from adding to his tally. The visitors, however, were able to keep the game going, and in the 82nd minute they scored a second goal that would prove decisive. Ceara dropped Kim Jin Hyeon's shot and Sota Kitano, who had come on as a substitute just before the goal, made a neat move forward and into the box. He calmly slotted the ball into the net. The Sakura's wonderboy returned to the team this week after undergoing rehabilitation following surgery for a meniscus injury he sustained in his right knee last October. "I was full of frustration during the rehabilitation period," he said. "I had a sense of crisis, but I was able to come back in the best way possible." He was happy to be back, but added: "From now on we will play a series of away games, so the strength of the team will be tested. We just have to prepare well. He looked ahead to the next two consecutive away games.

Two Cerezo Academy graduates, Funaki and Kitano, scored goals for the team's third straight win. "They did a wonderful job and gave hope to the players and staff at the Academy," said the manager. The team's five-game unbeaten streak since the start of the season is a new club record in J1, and the team's 30th anniversary year has started on a high note. Funaki, who helped keep the team scoreless for two consecutive games and scored the team's first goal in this game, vowed to continue growing as an individual, saying, "I think there are many areas where we can improve even more."

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