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Review: Avispa Fukuoka 0-3 Cerezo Osaka (J1 MD15)

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Cerezo scored three goals against Fukuoka, winning for the first time in seven games.

Two days after the previous game against FC Machida Zelvia, which was a fierce battle in the rain, Cerezo Osaka took on Avispa Fukuoka in the 15th round of the Meiji Yasuda J1 League, looking to end their losing streak at three. Three changes were made to the starting lineup from the previous game. Leo Ceara and Lucas Fernandes returned after two games, and Vitor Bueno started for the first time in nine games since the match against Kashiwa Reysol in the 6th round. On the bench, Seiya Maikuma returned for the first time in three games after suffering an injury in the match against Gamba Osaka on March 12.

The game started off with Fukuoka pressing Cerezo. Fukuoka sent in several crosses from the side, but Cerezo cleared them well. In the 5th minute, Leo Ceara struck a long shot from distance, and in the 7th minute, Ceara won a free kick after being fouled by an opposing defender while dribbling. This free kick led Cerezo to an early lead. Bueno received a pass from Fernandes and crossed into the box. From Bueno's cross, Ryuya Nishio sent a pass inside the box, and Bueno received it and shot. This shot turned out to be a pass to Ceara, who controlled it very well, turned and fired a shot. The last six games without a win had been difficult for Cerezo, and they desperately needed the first goal. The Sakura ace struck the ball beautifully for his 12th goal of the season.

The day before the match, manager Akio Kogiku said, "We will sort out the combinations, positions and tasks so that each player's role and character can shine through. In this match, Cerezo started with a double volante formation of Shunta Tanaka and Hiroaki Okuno, with Bueno at the top of the midfield. Okuno filled the space in the back and picked up the second ball to relieve Tanaka. The attacks were more vertical, with Jordy Croux, playing against his old team, and Fernandes actively trying to get a shot off. In the 29th minute, a corner kick led to a goal. Tanaka met Fernandes' kick with his head in the middle of the box and sent it into the back of the net. Cerezo had a few close calls towards the end of the first half, but were able to hold on to their two-goal lead.

In the second half, Cerezo continued to control the game. Cerezo continued to respond well to Fukuoka's crosses and also picked up second balls to keep the game going. In the 61st minute, Fukuoka's Shahab Zahedi was sent off for his second yellow card of the match. From the first half on, the defenders, including Koji Toriumi, kept the Fukuoka ace at bay with their tight defense, which was another reason for the win. With the numerical advantage, Cerezo were in no hurry and were ready for a third goal when the opportunity presented itself. In the 78th minute, Satoki Uejo, who came on midway through the game, got behind the defense and fired a powerful shot. In the final minutes of the match, Fukuoka had used up all five of their substitutes when a player was injured and unable to continue. From this point on, Cerezo had two more players, but in the 90+7th minute, Fukuoka had the decisive chance. However, Wellington's header from a cross was saved by goalkeeper Kim Jin Hyeon. Soon after, Cerezo added a third goal. Kiyotake won the ball high up the field. Uejo dribbled and passed to Kiyotake, who received the ball on the edge of the penalty area. Kiyotake sent a precise cross to the opposite side, where Hirotaka Tameda jumped to meet the volley. The goalkeeper stopped the ball once. But when it hit the crossbar and bounced back, he headed it in again. This was Tameda's 100th J1 game. He made it a milestone for himself. The game ended with the third goal, which involved three players who were substitutes in the game. It was the first win in seven games since the eighth game against Kawasaki Frontale.

"The players were always positive in their training (even when we didn't win). They always trained in a good atmosphere. I think that led to today's victory," said manager Kogiku. The team will now aim to turn this month of suffering into "learning" (manager Kogiku), and to build on their victories from this point forward.

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