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Review: Cerezo Osaka 1-1 Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo (J1 MD11)

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Cerezo equalized with Leo Ceara's sixth goal in a row, but it was not enough to secure their first win in three matches.

Five days after a hard-fought match against Yokohama F Marinos last week, Cerezo Osaka faced Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo at home in the 11th round of the Meiji Yasuda J1 League. There were two changes to the starting line-up from last week. Masaya Shibayama played as one of the inside halves, while Jordy Croux made his first appearance in five matches since the sixth round match against Kashiwa, replacing Capixaba who was injured last week.

At the start of the match, both teams played long balls, but it was Cerezo who gradually took the initiative. Cerezo used a combination of passing and getting behind the opposing defense, depending on how Sapporo pressed. While they were moving the ball around and looking for chances, their defensive pressure from the front was also working. In the 12th minute, Shibayama fired the first shot from a counterattack, and in the 18th minute, Cerezo broke down the right flank from a throw-in and Shunta Tanaka crossed. Leo Ceara's shot from inside the box was headed towards goal, but the ball was cleared off the line by a defender. In the 20th minute, Crooks made no mistake in the opposing defense and after a pass between Leo Ceara and Shibayama, the decisive moment seemed to have arrived, but Leo Ceara's final pass was a little too long and Shibayama's shot from an awkward position went wide.

After failing to convert their chances in the early stages, the game began to tilt in Sapporo's favor. After several chances were created on the left flank, Sapporo finally broke the deadlock in the 27th minute. Koji Toriumi headed the opposing goalkeeper's kick, but the second ball was picked up and quickly pushed vertically into the path of the onrushing Yuya Asano, who shot straight at goal, with goalkeeper Kim Jin Hyeon doing her best to get a hand on it. Sapporo had another chance in the 29th minute, but Musashi Suzuki's header hit the post. Cerezo were able to clear the danger. Manager Akio Kogiku reflected after the game that "we lost our own flow in the first half", but Sapporo's inability to take the lead in a shaky first half made the game more difficult.

In the second half, Cerezo came out strong, but the tide began to turn in Sapporo's favor. In the 58th minute, Kogiku decided to make three changes in an attempt to get the game back on track. Shinji Kagawa and Sota Kitano were introduced into the midfield, with Hirotaka Tameda on the left wing, and from that point on Cerezo dominated the game. Kagawa, in particular, was able to get on the end of the ball and make quality passes forward that led to chances. In the 61st minute, Kagawa played a pass to the back that Leo Ceara was able to keep out. Kitano and Maikuma combined and Maikuma's cross was met by Lucas Fernandes, who was playing against his old club. It was a perfect breakaway, but Fernandes' shot went just wide. In the 65th minute, another good cross was played in by Tameda, starting with Shunta Tanaka, through Kagawa and finally Tameda, but Leo Ceara could not hold the ball properly and could not get a shot on target. Cerezo missed a couple of good chances, but the good run of play continued and they equalized at this time. In the 68th minute, Kyohei Noborizato cut out a vertical pass from the Sapporo defense and Kagawa quickly passed to Leo Ceara on the front line. Lucas Fernandes received the ball, dribbled into space and was eventually fouled a Sapporo defender in the box to earn a penalty. The number nine calmly slotted home the equalizer, his sixth goal in a row.

Tanaka reflected after the match: "In the second half, our opponents became less athletic and we were able to create a numerical advantage. In the 82nd minute, Kagawa was fouled just outside the penalty area, resulting in a free kick. Kakeru Funaki tried his luck with a direct shot, but the ball went wide. In the final minutes, Sapporo had several chances to score on the counterattack, but goalkeeper Kim Jin Hyeon made a good save and the defenders held firm to prevent the visitors from scoring. Kagawa's leaping volley from Maimuma's cross in the final minute went just wide and the game ended 1-1. For the second game in a row, Cerezo came from behind to claim a point, but Kagawa said, "We should not be satisfied with this point. After the match, the players had more words of regret. At the same time, they turned their attention to the upcoming Osaka derby, which is only two days away. "We are lucky to have a game so soon," said Kagawa, "so we will focus on the next game. "It is necessary to reflect on the game, but the next game is coming soon. It is also important to stay focused. Especially the next one is a derby. We want to take the three points here and gain momentum to become a winning team again" (Noborizato). After the game, the supporters behind the goal chanted to encourage the players for the Osaka derby. The team has now won five league derbies in a row, and will try to win again to get three points.

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