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Review: FC Machida Zelvia 2-1 Cerezo Osaka (J1 MD14)

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Cerezo suffered their first three-game losing streak of the season as Machida's fast-paced attack scored two goals.

Three days after suffering their first consecutive defeat of the season against Vissel Kobe, Cerezo Osaka faced FC Machida Zelvia in the 14th round of the Meiji Yasuda J1 League. There were four changes to the starting lineup. Hiroto Yamada made his first league start of the season, Jordy Croux and Masaya Shibayama made their first starts in three matches, and Ryuya Nishio came in at center back.

Cerezo controlled the ball from the start, but Machida's fast, vertical attack kept them in trouble. In the 5th minute, Cerezo Academy graduate Shota Fujio broke down the right flank and crossed the ball into the box, but Koji Toriumi was able to block the shot. In the 9th minute, Fujio cut inside and fired a shot that flew just in front of the goalkeeper. Machida had another big chance in the 28th minute on a counterattack. Yu Hirakawa dribbled the ball, but Hayato Okuda defended well to clear the course, and goalkeeper Kim Jin Hyeon made a great save with his hand. Cerezo had been unable to get a shot on target, but in the 30th minute, Nishio, Shibayama, Croux and Okuda broke down the right flank and won a corner kick. Hiroaki Okuno collected the second ball from Croux's kick, and when Hirotaka Tameda crossed, Yamada was on hand at the far post to head home. It looked like the first goal in six games, but VAR ruled that Yamada was slightly offside and the goal was disallowed. In first-half stoppage time, Fujio went close again from Oh Se Hun's drop but Nishio did well to keep the ball out.

From the start of the second half, Leo Ceara, who had started the match on the bench, replaced Tameda, and Yamada moved to the left wing. The second half started not badly, with Shunta Tanaka and Croux both going close, and in the 64th minute, the decisive moment came when Shibayama and Tanaka won the ball and launched a short counter, Okuno connected vertically, and Ceara's cross was met by Tanaka who came into the penalty area, but his shot went wide. In the 70th minute, substitutes Lucas Fernandes and Ceara won the ball high up the field and tried to start a good attack, but Shibayama's vertical pass was cut off and Machida's quick side attack led to a cross from the left that Oh Se Hun met inside and scored. It was a regrettable moment for Cerezo, as they were on the offensive with substitutions. Nevertheless, Cerezo fought back. In the 75th minute, Croux cut inside and fired a powerful left-foot shot that threatened the goal. In the 82nd minute, a through pass from Vitor Bueno, who came on as a substitute, led to a penalty kick after Ceara's foot was tripped by an opposing defender. In the 84th minute, Ceara scored a goal himself, and Cerezo equalized. As substitute Hiroshi Kiyotake said after the match, "After scoring a goal, I thought we could score another one." In the 90th minute, Kiyotake played a one-two with Fernandes and fired a close shot that was saved by the goalkeeper. Then, in the added time of the second half, a goal kick was carried vertically by the opponent's left back, and the cross was met by Mitchell Duke on the far side for a goal. Once again, Cerezo conceded a goal by being used the space they created after attacking.

In this game, Okuda, who came in at right back, was able to get involved in the build-up while taking up a central position, and there were times when he was able to play to his strengths. However, as manager Akio Kogiku reflected on the game, "We were overpowered by Machida's strength in vertical speed and crosses." The team was unable to respond to the cheers of the supporters who had inspired the team to the very end, even in the pouring rain. "We are in a difficult situation because of the lack of results," said Nishio, "but if we continue to do what we are doing as a team in a positive way, I believe the results will follow. Today's result is frustrating, but we will not look down and will continue to work hard." The next match is against Avispa Fukuoka, another away game in two days. It will be a tough game, but the team will aim to overcome this difficult situation and get a win to get back on track.

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