(Highlights of all the goals from the KINCHO Stadium as Sanfrecce Hiroshima cantered to a 4-1 win against Cerezo Osaka, and remained in touch with league leaders Vegalta Sendai)
A cynical foul from the unexpected quarter of Toshihiro Aoyama forced Hiroshi Kiyotake to limp from the pitch with a quarter of an hour of this match to play, and depending upon the severity of the injury sustained may have played his last of what would otherwise have been his penultimate J.League appearance at the KINCHO Stadium. Of equal, if not greater concern to manager Sérgio Soares is how to replace the young midfielder at a time in which Cerezo look likely to be drawn into the relegation fight which has already engulfed their city rivals Gamba. Kiyotake was his side’s outstanding player as he displayed his full repertoire of two-footed passing in a performance brimming with wit and invention, and had Kempes not once again flattered to deceive in attack, Kiyotake, Kim Bo-Kyung and Yoichiro Kakitani could each have recorded assists and provided a more respectable outcome to this encounter.
Kempes, The 29-year old Brazilian on loan from Portuguesa, has the worst shots to goals ratio of any player to have scored three or more in Division 1, his 46 attempts to three goals underlining an over-reliance on Kim for goals, and his lack of poise in today’s contest was neatly characterised in vigorously disputing the receipt of a yellow card, rather than reflecting on how he had failed to find the net from all of four yards from goal.
Beyond Kiyotake’s individual excellence and a very evenly contested battle between Masato Kurogi and Sanfrecce wing-back Mikic, however, Cerezo struggled to contain Hajime Moriyasu’s men, as the movement between the lines of both the 32-year old Croatian and Kohei Shimizu on the opposite flank, allied to the touch and vision of the impressive Naoki Ishihara and Yojiro Takahagi behind Hisato Sato, exemplified why the visitors have scored twenty goals in their last seven fixtures. This was no more true than in the first period, Sanfre continually exploiting space behind Cerezo right-back Noriyuki Sakemoto as he attempted to support Kim on the right of midfield, forcing Teruyuki Moniwa to leave his position at right centre-back and creating gaps through which the visitors could place passes between defenders with ease.
Having given early notice of their attacking intent from the kick-off, Sanfrecce moving the ball though defence and midfield to provide a cross which only narrowly evaded Sato’s run, they took the lead within seven minutes. After Kazuyuki Morisaki had broken up a Cerezo attack, he moved the ball forward to Sato on the halfway line. Striding twenty yards without a challenge being made, the centre-forward played a diagonal pass between Sakemoto and Moniwa to a purposeful Takahagi on the left. While his initial shot across the angle was beaten away by Kim Jin-Hyun, the 25-year old from Fukushima Prefecture did superbly to convert the follow-up from the most acute of angles.
In the ensuing passage of play referee Futoshi Nakamura failed to award Sanfre a penalty after Sakemoto had clearly bundled over Shimizu, and Hisato Sato had correctly had a goal ruled out for offside, before J.League Division One’s top scorer had the chance to add to his tally from the spot and double Sanfrecce’s advantage, Takahagi tripped by Kim Jin-Hyun as he attempted to close down the player inside his area. Kim was shown only a yellow card, the official most likely deeming the offence worthy of a caution on the grounds that Takahagi was unlikely to remain in control of the ball. Sato’s run-up was measured, calculated to anticipate Kim moving early between the posts, but he was undone by his shot striking the crossbar and rebounding beyond the penalty area to safety.
With Kempes so remiss in front of goal, it was of little surprise that Cerezo’s solitary strike came courtesy of a deflection. Picking the ball up in midfield, Yoichiro Kakitani laid the ball off to Kiyotake, whose quick feet enabled him to drift past Morisaki before returning the ball to the Cerezo forward on the left of the penalty area. Intending to lob Shusaku Nishikawa and place his shot into the right corner of the goal, the attempt was clearly heading wide until it struck the chest of Ryota Moriwaki, sending the ball looping over the goalkeeper for the equaliser. The goal six minutes before the interval came in a small period of pressure for Sérgio Soares’s side, Kiyotake drifting inside from the left and dropping slightly deeper to dictate play in midfield, but Kempes passed up a presentable chance to take the lead.
It would be Sato instead who put Sanfrecce back in front for his eleventh goal in fourteen J.League appearances. Morisaki was once again given the freedom to bring the ball over halfway as Cerezo dropped deeper, and he played the simplest of passes to an unmarked Mikic hugging the right touchline. His low cross along the six yard area ran through Ishihara and Moniwa, leaving Sato with a tap-in at the back post after he had continued his run beyond a stationary Sakemoto.
Ishihara would have just reward for his exertions with two goals of his own. Substitute Hwang Seok-Ho tackled strongly on the left, Takahagi picking up the loose ball and finding the 27-year old alone just inside his own half. Cerezo’s midfield, not learning from earlier mistakes, dropped back without pressing the player in possession, and Ishihara fed Mikic to the right of the eighteen yard area. He prodded a pass inside the box which Takahagi collected, and his generous pull back was easily finished for the third goal with a quarter of an hour to play. One minute from full-time Ishihara accepted a similar invitation from the right for his sixth of the 2012 campaign, from a move which started deep in their own half and a build-up in which seven players were involved, Mikic once more the provider.
The win ensured Sanfrecce remained in touch of Vegalta Sendai at the top of the table. Matchday Fifteen sees the Hiroshima side welcome struggling Omiya Ardija to the Big Arch, while Vegalta travel to third-placed Urawa Red Diamonds, before the Yurtec provides the background for a highly-anticipated encounter between the two teams on 30 June.
|Cerezo Osaka||1||Sanfrecce Hiroshima||4|
|Match Statistics||Match Statistics|
|Yoichiro Kakitani||39||Yojiro Takahagi||7|
|Naoki Ishihara||75, 89|
|Kim Bo-Kyung||28||Toshihiro Aoyama||71|
|Hotaru Yamaguchi 49′||28|