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Review: Cerezo Osaka 1-4 Vissel Kobe (J1 MD13)

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Despite having time to express their offensive and defensive aims, Cerezo were defeated by last season's champions by four goals.

Four days after the disappointing Osaka Derby in the previous round, Cerezo Osaka returned home to face last season's champions Vissel Kobe in the 13th round of the Meiji Yasuda J1 League. The starting lineup was changed by two players from the previous match. Hayato Okuda and Justin Hubner made their first J1 starts, while Seiya Maikuma and Kyohei Noborizato, who were injured in the previous game, were absent. Kakeru Funaki, who has been playing as a center back, started at left back for the first time this season.

The start of the game was a restless affair, with long balls flying past both sides. However, Cerezo responded well to Kobe's long balls and diagonal kicks, pushing up their lines and maintaining a compact formation. After 15 minutes, Cerezo began to connect passes and shoot. In the 16th minute, Lucas Fernandez, on the right flank, cut into the middle and sent a deft floated pass forward. Shinji Kagawa picked up the cleared ball and unleashed the first shot of the match. Another big chance came in the 17th minute. Starting with Hayato Okuda, Cerezo broke down the right flank, and Leo Ceara shot from Fernandes' through pass. They broke the opponents’ defense, but his shot went wide. Shortly after, Shunta Tanaka headed over a CK, and in the 19th minute there was another close call. Okuda again started the play and sent the ball to Hirotaka Tameda on the opposite flank. From there, he linked up with the center and right at a good pace, beating his opponents, and finally Okuda received the ball from Kagawa and shot with his left foot. It was a good shot, but it just missed the goal. Okuda's performance was a big positive for the team, as manager Akio Kogiku said after the match that he gave Okuda "100 points as a player starting a J1 game for the first time."

Thereafter, Kobe kept the ball for a while, but Cerezo defended without allowing a shot. In the 35th minute, Cerezo combined passes at high speed on the right side of the field and Tanaka fired a shot. Despite the change in the starting lineup, Cerezo were able to keep the game going as planned both offensively and defensively, but the first shot allowed to Kobe in the 38th minute resulted in a goal. The goal was regrettable, as it was the result of a Kobe throw-in that started deep in their own territory. After being beaten two or three times for the loose ball, Yuya Osako's pass found Yoshinori Muto, and Hotaru Yamaguchi ran into the space left by a retreating defender and unleashed a powerful shot. The second goal came in the 44th minute when Cerezo stormed back at Kobe. A free kick from the Kobe side was stretched by the wind and goalkeeper Kim Jin Hyeon was unable to make a save on the ball, and it was turned on the far side and headed in in the middle.

At the start of the second half, Kogiku replaced Tameda and Kagawa with Jordy Croux and Masaya Shibayama. Fernandes was shifted to the left wing. Cerezo tried to fight back, but in the 49th minute, Osako scored their third goal from a corner kick. The goal was a heavy blow for Cerezo, but they pulled one back in the 57th minute. After a thick attack, Hiroaki Okuno moved up front and blocked a clearance from the opposing defender. Fernandes reacted to the loose ball and played it back to Ceara, who slotted it home. The number nine's 10th goal of the season lifted Cerezo's spirits and from then on they attacked with a vengeance. In the 66th minute, Fernandes cut inside and passed to the opposite flank. The ball was played to Shibayama and Croux, who sent in a sharp cross that was not met inside. In the 73rd minute, Muto got behind the defense and had a chance, but Funaki did his best to get back and block the shot. In the 75th minute, Kogiku replaced Okuno and Hubner with Hiroto Yamada and Hiroshi Kiyotake. The team switched to a 4-4-2 system, with Kiyotake and Shibayama playing as a double pivot in an attacking formation, and went in search of a goal. However, Kobe took advantage of their determination to attack more, and from that point on, they were a constant threat. Cerezo had a chance in the 86th minute when Kiyotake's cross was met by Yamada, but the ball went wide. In the final minutes of the match, Kobe took the lead when Taisei Miyashiro scored their fourth goal in the 90+3 minute and the game was over. Cerezo had been on the attack for a long time, but Kobe scored more efficiently, and by the end of the game they had conceded four goals, their most of the season. The team's winless streak was extended to five games.

"I don't think it was a bad game in terms of performance, but we are professionals and we have to accept the result," said Kogiku. "Even when we start well, we can't convert chances into goals. We concede goals when we have the advantage. We will face this problem," he added. During the five matches without a win, the team has controlled the game in many of them, but it has not led to a good result. The team aims to get three points in the next match by "scoring at the right time and defending the goal well," Kogiku said.

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