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Review: Cerezo Osaka 2-2 Yokohama F. Marinos (J1 MD10)

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Two goals from the "Sakura ace" helped the team tie the game twice and earn a point.

Five days after suffering their first defeat of the season against Nagoya Grampus, Cerezo Osaka returned home to face Yokohama F. Marinos in the 10th round of the Meiji Yasuda J1 League. There was one change to the starting line-up from the previous match. Masaya Shibayama was out and Shinji Kagawa returned to the starting line-up for the first time in six matches since the match against Tosu in the fourth round.

Yokohama FM kept possession from the start, while Cerezo tried to win the ball by pressing hard from high up the pitch. In the 3rd minute, Cerezo were pinned down on their right flank, but goalkeeper Kim Jin Hyeon made a good save. In the 5th minute, after an interlocking press led to a goalkeeper error, Leo Ceara collected the ball and shot straight at the goalkeeper, creating a chance for the home side. After an evenly matched minutes, Cerezo conceded an opener in the 17th minute, as they did in the last match. Kakeru Funaki provided excellent cover but lost possession as he looked for a way through. Kota Mizunuma headed in Elber's cross to give Yokohama FM the lead.

From this point on, the tide tilted in Yokohama FM's favor. They had made six changes to their starting line-up two days after their second AFC Champions League semi-final, but "the players who were given a new chance were very aggressive and united in their challenge. We had tough time," manager Akio Kogiku reflected. Cerezo's pressing was not working and "we were effectively outpossessed by the opposition" (Kagawa), but the game went on without conceding another goal, and in the 45th minute there was a golden opportunity for Cerezo. Kim Jin Hyeon delivered an accurate goal kick to Leo Ceara on the front line, who got behind the opposition defence and was beaten by the goalkeeper for a penalty. However, the number nine, who took the kick himself, missed. Nonetheless, Cerezo managed to level the scores in first-half injury time after a long break due to a sudden illness in the stands midway through the game. In the 45+8th minute, Kagawa and Shunta Tanaka combined to win the ball and Tanaka's pass was calmly slotted home by Leo Ceara.

It was a difficult first half, but Cerezo were able to catch up at the end and get back into the game in the second half. After a defensive sort-out at half-time, the build-up from the back improved and Cerezo began to penetrate their opponents' half of the pitch more often. However, it was again Yokohama FM who broke the tie, scoring after a corner kick in the 59th minute. However, Cerezo never let their heads down, and that's been their strength this season. Lucas Fernandes and Seiya Maikuma provided the attacking threat on the right, while Satoki Uejo, who replaced the injured Capixaba at the end of the first half, was lively on the left. In the 63rd minute, despite the lack of an angle, Uejo went close with a powerful shot from the left. And in the 68th minute, Cerezo pulled one back. Lucas Fernandes' free-kick was met by Leo Ceara, whose powerful header gave the 'Sakura Ace' cause for celebration as he made up for a missed penalty to score his first two goals in a game this season. The home crowd at the Yodoko Sakura Stadium rose to their feet and Cerezo responded with an onslaught towards the end of the match. In the 74th minute, Vitor Bueno, and Hirotaka Tameda who had recently recovered from injury, came on and both helped their side get close to scoring. In second-half added time, Maikuma's grounded mid-range shot was blocked by the goalkeeper. Yokohama FM then broke down the flanks and there were a few close calls, but the score remained unchanged at 2-2. Both sides played to their strengths in a hard-fought encounter that ended in a draw.

Considering the first half, when Cerezo didn't play well, and the difficult game in which they were twice behind, it can be said that they did well to come back and catch up, but considering the attacking play in the last minutes, it can also be said that they were able to win the game and gain the three points. "Last year, it would have been difficult to come back from a game where we were behind. To come back twice in a difficult game is a huge improvement. We think it's a big point and we can play at home again next time, so we want to get three points next time." As the manager said after the game, it is important to avoid consecutive defeats and take the point gained from this game into the future. "This point will also have an impact on the league table," said Leo Ceara, who rescued the team by scoring in five consecutive games. The team will now prepare for their next match against Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo in five days' time.

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