Three goals in fifteen second-half minutes gave Cerezo Osaka a victory which lifts them temporarily to fourth place in the table on goal difference, and they will remain for at least a week there provided FC Tokyo don’t win in Sunday’s match away to Kawasaki Frontale. A penalty from Hiroshi Kiyotake and two goals from Bo-Kyung Kim were sufficient to maintain an excellent unbeaten away record, and with city rivals Gamba Osaka collapsing to a 4-1 defeat to Sanfrecce Hiroshima and a nine point gap between the two sides, they may sense the possibility of toppling their local adversaries in J.League Division 1 for the first time since 2003.
The first period was insipid and scratchy, giving no indication of the rewards in terms of technical quality and goals which were to follow in the second-half. In particular, Carlinhos looked out of sorts, and shifted to a more defensive role in a 4-2-3-1 may have found the role compromised his passing ability. It was Ardija who began the brightest, however, Daigo Watanabe and Daisuke Watanabe linking well together on the Omiya right on four minutes, and feeding Rafael, only a timely challenge from Kota Fujimoto prevented the Brazilian forward from advancing on goalkeeper Jin-Hyun Kim. Two minutes later Kim saw his first action of the game, Rafael turning well on the Omiya left flank and finding left-midfielder Young-Cheol Cho in space, the South Korean shot from distance which Kim gathered low to his right.
Shortly after, Takashi Kitano was forced into his first of what would become many responses, Bo-Kyung Kim receiving a short pass from a free-kick in the middle of the Ardija half, and he struck a fierce rising shot which the Omiya goalkeeper parried and then collected at the second attempt. On 20 minutes the 29 year-old stopper made an excellent save from Kempes, the forward picking the ball up on the left, bringing the ball inside two Squirrels defenders and shooting left-footed which Kitano stretched to divert beyond his left post.
With 20 minutes remaining in the first half Ardija had one of their very few clear sights of goal. A Carlinhos corner from the right was half-cleared, and Takumi Shimohira bent a cross into the penalty area which defender Daisuke Kikuchi controlled well on his chest, before shooting narrowly wide of Kim’s right post with the goaslkeeper well-beaten.
Ardija and Cerezo would continue to trade shots, but with half an hour played it was Cerezo who were slowly starting to turn the screw, and Hiroshi Kiyotake nearly opened the scoring for the visitors on the 30 minute mark, rising to meet a Branquinho cross which was heading goalwards until a deflection off the shoulder of an unwitting Rafael sent the ball wide, and just two minutes later Kitano dived shaprly to his right to keep out a Kempes header, another Branquinho cross the source of the opportunity.
When the home side did have the opportunity to break, errors crept in, with an unusually quiet Young-Cheol Cho wasting a superb chance to find Rafael in a one-on-one situation, drifting a cross straight into the hands of Kim. Ardija weren’t the only side who were wasteful in the first period, however, and on 44 minutes Branquinho found the post when he should have netted. A quick Cerezo counter-attack allowed Hiroshi Kiyotake to break in left midfield, and his pass to Kempes was sent first time into the path of his fellow Brazilian teammate. Under little pressure he drove powerfully but with too little accuracy, and the ball cannoned off the right upright and away for a goal kick.
Cerezo had the upper hand as the first period drew to a close, and they began the second half in a similar vein. Three minutes had elapsed when Branquinho missed a simple chance to open Cerezo’s account. Kempes received the ball 8 yards from the goal-line on the left, and drove into the penalty area. Staying on his feet brilliantly despite the close attention of Takuya Aoki for which a penalty could almost certainly have been awarded, he pulled the ball back to Branquinho. Barely four yards out he fired left of the upright with the goal at his mercy.
On 50 minutes, however, Cerezo were given even more cause for a penalty, which this time referee Yuichi Nishimura duly awarded. A Branquinho set piece did the damage, the ball lofted into the 18-yard box from 40 yards, and Daisuke Watabe pulled back Kempes who would have had a clear sight on goal. Watabe’s protestations fell on deaf ears, and he was booked for an offence for which he should have little complaint. The pressure of taking the penalty fell on the young shoulders of midfielder Hiroshi Kiyotake, but he made no mistake in slamming a superbly taken spot kick into the bottom right-hand corner, well beyond the reach of Kitano’s dive.
Cerezo’s sustained pressure had been rewarded, and they were further in front just two minutes later when a catastrophic defensive error from Young-Gwon Kim allowed compatriot Bo-Kyung Kim to score. Kiyotake, now beginning to seize control in advanced midfield positions, exchanged passes with Hotaru Yamaguchi, and he directed a ball to the feet of Kempes. The forward’s attempted flick should easily have been cut out by the South Korean centre-back, but he miscontrolled, allowing Bo-Kyung Kim to steal, and in his attempt to rectify the error deflected Kim’s shot past Kitano.
Squirrels’ manager Jun Suzuki made an immediate substitution, removing full-back Daisuke Watabe for Kota Ueda, who had been dropped in favour of the largely ineffectual Daigo Watanabe, which provided for a period of pressure for the home side but always ran the risk of leaving the three defenders exposed to a counter-attack. A chance very quickly presented itself for Ardija, but Daisuke Kikuchi planted a powerful header from a Carlinhos free-kick straight at goalkeeper Kim, and with 25 minutes remaining Ardija had the ball in the net but found their celebrations cut short. Daigo Watanabe placed a lovely chipped ball to Rafael near the right edge of the six yard box, which he controlled and shot on the turn to find the bottom left corner, but a late and marginal offside decision from the assistant referee meant the goal was disallowed.
Halfway through the second half, and having failed to heed warnings about their defensive frailties on the counter-attack, Cerezo ended the match as a contest. A rapid counter-attack left Branquinho with the ball midway into Ardija’s half, and spotting Bo Kyung-Kim overlapping to his right, he placed a simple ball into his path, the 22-year old South Korean international lashing past Kitano into the left of the goal. From there it seemed simply a matter of how many more the visitors would score, but substitute Yoichiro Kakitani twice and fellow replacement Ryuji Bando both wasted gilt-edged opportunities to further their advantage. Most importantly, however, Cerezo would collect all three points, and with it, their first J.League Division 1 victory away to Omiya Ardija in their history.
|Omiya Ardija||Cerezo Osaka|
|Takumi Shimohira||9||Bo-Kyung Kim||58|
|Daisuke Watabe||52||Daisuke Takahashi||60|