Cerezo Osaka with late game-tying goal edge Kobe in overtime and reach final of 97th Emperor's Cup on New Year's Day
24 December 2017
Two semi-final matches of the 97th Emperor's Cup All Japan Football Championship were held on Saturday 23 December.
Vissel Kobe (J1) 1-3（0-0, 1-1 ext. 0-1, 0-1） Cerezo Osaka (J1)
The match between Vissel Kobe (J1) and Cerezo Osaka (J1) at Yanmar Stadium Nagai saw Cerezo create few promising chances and take the early initiative of the match with SOUSA leading their attacks and distributing neat passes, while FUKUMITSU Takaki looked for the right timing to shift from centre to right and take the ball up the pitch. In the 8th minute, Fukumitsu surged up right flank before he fed a pass to MATSUDA Riku who then delivered a cross to the centre, but it went just inches ahead of onrushing YAMAMURA Kazuya.
On the other hand, Kobe searched for their opening goal by intercepting the ball on the opposing end of the pitch and hitting on a quick counter. After 12 minutes, TAKAHASHI Hideto robbed the ball inside the opponents’ penalty area and passed it quickly to FUJITA Naoyuki, who found WATANABE Kazuma, but their exchange of passes did not give them a chance to fire a shot at goal. Another chance came in a minute later, when Watanabe fired a shot off a loose ball from Fujita's long throw on the left side, but his effort went straight into the hands of the opposing goalkeeper. The first half finished scoreless.
During the halftime break, Cerezo Osaka’s coach YOON Jonghwan instructed his players, “We need to have a clearer idea when we attack. Let’s play with a bit more composure.” Then, the Osaka club increased the number of times that they broke through the Vissel defence on the left flank and regained their attacking flair from the start of the second half. In the 54th minute, MARUHASHI Yusuke and KIYOTAKE Hiroshi combined well on the left side, and Souza ran past the surrounding defenders to aim a cut-back directly at goal, but his attempt missed the target.
Thereafter, Cerezo continued to threaten their opponents with menacing attacks, but were unable to carve open the solid Kobe defence and the match remained scoreless until the closing minutes of the second half.
After enduring a long period where they had to defend on their side of the pitch, Kobe went on an attacking surge and broke the deadlock in the 90th minute. A left cross from OMORI Kotaro went untouched and sailed directly into the net to give his team a much-awaited opener.
However, Cerezo soon tied the match after sending a long ball from their kick-off on 90+1 minutes. The clearance from Kobe goalkeeper KIM Seung Gyu, after battling the ball with Yamamura in the air, went straight towards MIZUNUMA Kota, who fired a right-footed volley and scored an equaliser. He later commented, ‘I had a feeling at the kick-off that the ball might come to me.’
As Watanabe stated after the match, ‘the game was decided when we conceded an equaliser immediately after we scored a late goal to get ahead in the match’, Kobe were still in shock from that goal. Cerezo, on the other hand, gained momentum with their last-ditch equaliser, and came out strongly and attacked in overtime. In the 98th minute, Maruhashi's right cross induced a handball for a penalty kick. KAKITANI Yoichiro’s kick from the spot was once denied by the goalkeeper, but he netted the deflection with a diving header to put his team ahead for the first time in the match.
In the second half of the extra-time, Cerezo Osaka put more defensive players on the pitch and neutralised Kobe's power play. Souza then netted a game-deciding goal on 114th minute for the Osaka club. Cerezo edged a tough contest and grabbed a 3-1 victory with one more match to win before they can claim their first Emperor's Cup crown since former Yanmar club hoisted the trophy in 1974.
Coaches' and Players' Comments
YOSHIDA Takayuki, Coach (Vissel Kobe)
We became a little defensive, but our players executed our game plan well. Both sides were looking to use long feeds and get to the second balls, and take the initiative of the match. Despite giving up few scoring chances to our opponents, we had several opportunities to score on counter-attacks. The match stayed in the balance for a long time, but it was the second goal we conceded from a penalty that really hurt us. Our players were so committed to the match that they even cried after suffering a bitter loss. I must say that we played with strong emotion. After opening the scoring in the 90th minute, we let a win slip away in the last four minute of added time and lost in overtime contest. We need to make positive changes to the team and break through these walls that are blocking our way.
MF #23 MATSUSHITA Yoshiki (Vissel Kobe)
We had anticipated that our opponents would have possession for the majority of time and we would spend most of our time defending with patience. We had few moments in the game where they really threatened our goal, but I believe that we were able to execute our game plan and manage the game well. We did well not to allow a goal for the 90 minutes, but it was really regrettable that we conceded one in injury time. After scoring an opener, we should have stayed vocal and unified our thoughts. Then I believe that the final result might have been different. We had an excellent start to the season as we won four straight games, but could not keep that momentum as well. When things started to go wrong, we couldn’t turn them around. We learned the importance of having good communication this year as well.
YOON Jonghwan, Coach (Cerezo Osaka)
Despite the very cold weather, a lot of fans came out here to support us. I am very happy that we could respond to their support with a win today. We were missing some of the starting players and weren’t sure how the match would turn out to be. In addition, we couldn’t play as planned and lacked the clinical finishing to capitalise on the chances that we created. We further conceded a goal in the closing minutes of the second half, but fought until the end and got the desired result. We have players who got injured in today’s game, but now that we reached the final, we are determined to fight until the end and aim for the title as well.
MF #16 MIZUNUMA Kota (Cerezo Osaka)
Honestly speaking, I saw the clock after allowing the goal and found out that we did not have much time left. I felt a little demoralised, but it was great that I was able to score the equaliser. We created plenty of chances and I should have scored at least two more goals. If I could have taken advantage of them, then we could have played more advantageously. However, I must add that we defended tenaciously and scored a decisive goal at the end, and displayed our strength to win the match as well. We have come this far targeting none else but the championship. Playing on New Year’s Day is special for (Japanese) football players (as the final of Emperor’s Cup is always held on that day). While we keep that special feeling in our mind, we hope to display our style of football as we go all out and play and enjoy the match.
Yokohama F・Marinos (J1) 2-1 (0-1, 1-0、ext. 0-0, 1-0）Kashiwa Reysol (J1)
【First Round】Saturday 22, Sunday 23 April
【Second Round】Wednesday 21 June
【Third Round】Wednesday 12 July
【Round of16(Fourth Round)】Wednesday 20 September
【Quarter-finals】Wednesday 25 October
【Semi-finals】Saturday 23 December (National Holiday)
【Final】Monday 1 January 2018 (New Year's Day)
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