Vegalta Sendai Ladies advances to Quarterfinals of Empress's Cup JFA 40th Japan Women's Football Championship
03 December 2018
Pick-up Match 1
Cerezo Osaka Sakai Ladies (Nadeshiko Div.1/Osaka) 0-2 (0-1, 0-1) Mynavi Vegalta Sendai Ladies (Nadeshiko Div.1/Miyagi)
The two Nadeshiko Division 1 sides collided in the first match held at Hiroshima Koiki Park Football Stadium No.1, as Cerezo Osaka Sakai Ladies and Mynavi Vegalta Sendai Ladies faced each other. The two teams have played against each other four times this season, with Sendai taking the upper hand with a win and three draws.
The match saw the Osaka side controlling the ball possession with their quick ball movements. TANAKA Tomoko and MATSUBARA Shiho both made an attempt at goal but led by their goalkeeper SAITO Ayaka and the two centre halves, ICHISE Nana and SAKAI Yuki, the Sendai defence line defended well to keep the score line intact.
Vegalta on the other hand, initiated their attacks through the long balls delivered to their forward HAMADA Haruka to create opportunities. In the 25th minute, ONO Hitomi forced a turnover in the left side before passing the ball to NARA Misaki. Hamada responded to the early cross delivered by Nara and laid down the ball to allow Ono to strike the ball with her left foot, that captured the goal to give Sendai the lead.
The match entered into a deadlock for a while, but it was Cerezo who made the move to change the dynamics of the match. In the 71st minute, they shifted TAKARADA Saori to play upfront, while pressing up their goalkeeper to play higher to move the ball around. However, the Sendai defence line who made adjustments during halftime denied Cerezo from creating major opportunities.
Just as the match was about to finish, Sendai’s MIHASHI Mana converted a freekick with a header to double their lead and seal the match.
With the 2-0 victory, Sendai advanced to the quarterfinals where they will welcome the Nadeshiko League Champions, Nippon TV Beleza to their home stadium, Yurtec Stadium Sendai.
Pick-up Match 2
Nippatsu Yokohama FC Seagulls (Nadeshiko Div.2/Kanagawa) 0-2 (0-1, 0-1) Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies (Nadeshiko Div.1/Saitama)
The second match of the day featured a match between Nippatsu Yokohama FC Seagulls, who finished as the runners-up at the Nadeshiko League Division 2, and Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies who was fourth in Division 1.
It was the Yokohama side who created an opportunity first, as TACHIBANA Rei earned a corner kick after penetrating the right flank. The cross delivered by YAMAMOTO Emi came close to connecting a player in the box, but the Urawa defence line did well to deny the opportunity.
As Urawa’s KIRA Chinatsu later reflected, “Nippatsu has scored early in their previous match, so we focused on entering the match with high intensity to dominate the match from early on,” the Urawa side showcased an aggressive approach to threaten the Yokohama goal. Both SUGASAWA Yuika and OKUMA Rana made efforts to create opportunities, but Sugasawa’s shot was denied by the cross bar and came short from finding the back of the net.
The opening goal came in the 35th minute, when Sugasawa responded to a long ball delivered towards the box, as she raced to the ball ahead of the opposing goalkeeper and struck a header into the open net. Following their opening goal, Urawa showed great composure to dominate the match, but Yokohama showcased persistent efforts to keep the score line intact.
In efforts to score their second goal, Urawa brought in ENDO Yu in the 62nd minute to stimulate their offence. Just three minutes later, Endo was brought down in the box to earn a penalty kick, but Sugasawa failed to convert the spot kick.
Despite the missed attempt from the penalty spot, Urawa continued to attack with aggression and scored their second goal in the 78th minute when Kira struck a direct shot off a free kick to extend their lead. With the match ending with a final score of 2-0, Urawa advanced to the quarterfinals where AC Nagano Parceiro Ladies awaits.
Coach and Players' Comments
HAYASHI Honoka (Cerezo Osaka Sakai Ladies)
We entered the match with the intention to move the ball around from our own half and finish our plays with a shot. Despite taking control of the ball possession, we failed to create opportunities in the final third and finish with quality shots. Facing a team who defends with a block in the central area, we weren’t able to turn on our switch in critical situations and lost the battles to win the ball. This season, we faced many matches where we couldn’t pull off a win, but the team has managed to nurture a strong unity, and it means a lot for us that we were able to compete at division 1 this year.
HAMADA Haruka (Mynavi Vegalta Sendai Ladies)
There were plenty of space behind our opponent’s back, so I was anticipating to exploit that space when given the opportunity. When we scored the goal, (Nara) Misaki delivered a great ball into the space and (Ono) Hitomi made a great run. The goal was a result of a total effort made by everyone. I could have made it much easier for the team if I didn’t lose the ball too much while we had the 1-0 lead, so that’s something I must work on. In our next match, we will be facing Beleza, who we have not won against during the league action, but the match will be played at Yurtec Stadium and we’d have to win against them sooner or later as long as we are striving to win the tournament, so we will give our very best to win the match.
JINNO Takuya, Coach (Nippatsu Yokohama FC Seagulls)
We knew our opponents would take control of the ball possession, so we focused on our defence and tried to convert our few chances. We told each other to stay aggressive even when we are in the defensive end, but we were forced to play deep in our territory and failed to initiate quick transitions. We have to admit that it was a complete loss. The Reds’ forwards showcased great strengths and speed. It has given us a great opportunity to experience the speed of a division 1 side, so it should help us in our play-off match scheduled next week.
SUGASAWA Yuika (Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies)
We managed to score at a crucial moment of the match, maintain a clean sheet, and capture a late goal to extend the lead and win the match, so that was good for us. (Regarding her fourth goal of the tournament) My teammates are providing me with great passes, so I just had to stay composed and convert them. I have been able to collect the ball upfront and get myself involved in many of our goals this season, so I will continue to showcase my strengths at this final tournament of the year as well. We will give our best and prepare ourselves in the best way possible ahead of the quarterfinals.
Empress’s Cup JFA 40th Japan Women’s Football Championship
Tournament Dates:Sat. 3 November 2018 - Tue. 1 January 2019
【1st Round】Sat. 3 & Sun. 4 November 2018
【2nd Round】Sat. 24 & Sun. 25 November 2018
【3rd Round】Sat. 1 & Sun. 2 December 2018
【Quarterfinals】Sat. 22 December 2018
【Semi-Finals】Sat. 29 December 2018
【Final】Tue. 1 January 2019
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