East Asia Japan

Cerezo Pass Yokohama FC Challenge to Remain 2nd

Cerezo Osaka managed to survive a challenge posed by in-form Yokohama FC to remain second in the J.League  1 table on Sunday night. The men in pink won their Matchweek 13 game 2-1 at the NHK Spring Mitsuzawa Stadium, with former Japan international Hiroshi Kiyotake inspiring Miguel Angel Lotina’s men to victory with a goal to his name and an important contribution to Cerezo’s second. 

Prior to Sunday’s match newly promoted Yokohama FC had won three J1 games in a row, which included a shock 1-0 win over Kashima Antlers at the Mitsuzawa on August 19th. However, taking on Cerezo proved to be too much for Takahiro Shimotaira’s charges and despite dominating possession, Yokohama FC came out short against a Cerezo side who made their chances count.

Former Hannover 96 and Sevilla man Kiyotake, who captained Cerezo on Sunday, opened the scoring for the men in pink in the 14th minute. Toshiyuki Takagi flicked the ball towards Kiyotake, who outmuscled a Yokohama FC defender before firing off a left-footed shot that went straight into the far right corner of the goal, beyond the reaches of Yokohama FC goalie Yuji Rokutan.

Kiyotake then played an instrumental role in the buildup towards Cerezo’s second goal. In the 58th minute, Kiyotake made a darting run from the left side of the field as the midfielder ventured deep into Yokohama FC’s defense with the ball. This prompted a number of Yokohama FC defenders to pile their bodies forward to stop Kiyotake. They managed to shake Kiyotake off the ball, however the loose ball found its way towards Hiroaki Okuno, who passed it short towards Bruno Mendes. The Brazilian took no hesitation and slotted home Cerezo’s second past Rokutan.

With his team being two goals down, Shimotaira made the decision to introduce Celtic legend Shunsuke Nakamura into the fold in the 76th minute. The 41-year old was there to witness Yokohama FC’s consolation goal in the 86th minute – Takaaki Shichi lobbed the ball into the Cerezo penalty box, which was received by Koki Saito with his chest. The ball then fell towards the possession of Yusuke Matsuo, who fired a powerful drive that went past Cerezo goalkeeper Kim Jin-hyeon.

Despite Matsuo’s late goal, Cerezo managed to defend their lead well from the hosts’ late fightback and returned to Osaka with all three points and second place secured for another week. Yokohama FC, on the other hand, fell to 13th place with this defeat – their winning run finally coming to an end.