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Review: Cerezo Osaka 3-1 J LEASE FC (Emperor's Cup 2nd Round)

  • TEAM

Ryo Watanabe and Reiya Sakata scored their first goals of the season, and Cerezo won by a total of three goals to advance to the third round of the Emperor's Cup.

Two days after playing FC Machida Zelvia in the 2nd leg of the J.League YBC Levain Cup Play-off Round, the stage was set for the Emperor's Cup second round match against J LEASE FC of Oita Prefecture. With the exception of Kakeru Funaki and Hayato Okuda, the starting lineup was changed from the last match, with goalkeeper Keisuke Shimizu making his first appearance of the season and Ryo Watanabe making his first appearance in almost two months since the second leg of the first round of the Levain Cup.

In the first minute of the game, Cerezo gave their opponents a chance to score from a corner kick, but their shot went wide and they were able to avoid conceding a goal. However, the first header was also uncontested, and Yamashita said, "That's something I had to reflect on. We have been beaten at set pieces in the league, so we need to correct that." From this point on, they took control of the ball and quickly regained the initiative, taking the lead in the 7th minute. After a high tempo of passing between Yamashita, Jordy Croux, Yuichi Hirano, and Hiroshi Kiyotake, Kiyotake dribbled and crossed the ball perfectly. The ball was accurately played to Watanabe, who ran onto the ball with the confidence that it would come out, and the number 35 volleyed the ball into the net with an excellent finish. It was Watanabe's first goal of the season. He had been out of action for some time due to injury, but "I thought it was important to turn my frustration into strength and produce results when I was on the pitch. I always spent my days thinking about that," he said, as he prepared himself for the season. "First of all, it was good that I was able to score a goal today, and I think I was able to take the next step," he said, as his "season" finally got underway. Another goal followed in the 14th minute. Sakata received a pass from Croux on the right side, ran into the near area, collected the ball with his right foot, turned, and scored with his left foot in a spectacular finish. Sakata scored his first professional goal last year in the second round of the Emperor's Cup, and he did it again this season. After missing a chance for a third goal, the opponents pulled one back in the 27th minute, and had another chance in the 31st minute, but Cerezo goalkeeper Shimizu made a great save with his foot to give his side a one-goal lead at the end of the first half.

In the second half, Satoki Uejo replaced Sota Kitano in the top two positions, and in the 51st minute, Uejo received a pass from Kiyotake and fired a shot through the middle that narrowly missed the target. Sakata broke through vertically in the 57th minute, and Cerezo's third goal came in the 64th minute. Sakata took a feed from Kakeru Funaki, broke vertically again and crossed the ball to Hirotaka Tameda, who headed the ball into the net from the far side. Three minutes later, Watanabe had another chance after being played through by Kiyotake, who was outstanding throughout the match, but his shot was saved by the goalkeeper. With Masaya Shibayama and Hiroto Yamada coming on as substitutes, Cerezo went on the offensive in search of a fourth goal, with Shibayama dribbling and shooting in the 78th minute, and Yamada cutting high and shooting in the 83rd minute. On defense, they conceded a penalty kick in the 82nd minute, but were fortunate that the opponent's shot went wide. In the 85th minute, Funaki played a feed to Shibayama, who used the space behind the defenders to shoot a looping shot that went just wide. In the 87th minute, Shibayama again used a fine touch to dribble past an opponent and shoot. Once again, Shibayama's shot hit the crossbar after hitting the goalkeeper's hand. Although the number 48 showed his frustration, he made a number of impressive plays in a short period of time.

The game was a 3-1 victory for Cerezo, who scored in both halves to advance to the third round despite some defensive lapses due to J LEASE FC's skillful ball movement. "In a one-off tournament, the most important thing is to win. That's what we have to do," said the manager. "I'm also happy that so many of our players performed well, and I have a feeling that the competition will get tougher from here on out." Their next official match is against Urawa Reds in two days' time in the 18th round of the Meiji Yasuda J1 League, the fifth game in a five-game series and "an important match that will decide the future of the league," said Kogiku. They will be preparing for a must-win match.

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