Monday, 26 September 2011

6 goals from 6 different players...Yamagata were poor

Earlier this year we drew with Montedio in Yamagata but this was a completely different set of teams. In terms of the players and confidence. Even though Cerezo were missing Kiyotake, injured in the Olympic qualifier, this game had the biggest gulf in class between two J-League teams I've ever seen. I hope for the Montedio supporters this was a one off display from them! That man Bando opened the scoring with his 9th goal in J1 this season. Fujimoto added the next with a header. Yamagata showed no resistance or fight in the 2nd half and we soon added two more within 5 minutes of the restart from Sakemoto and Ogihara, who came through the Japan Olympic qualifier unscathed. With the match won Culpi made some changes looking to rest some players before the ACL quarter final in Korea on Tuesday. The creative Fabio scored his first goal for us followed by our new number 7, Yohei Otake scoring a penalty to end a miserable night for Montedio. We face a much bigger challenge next in Korea to keep our 4-3 advantage from the first leg against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.
Spirits still high with the away fans

Now realising this won't be a good away trip?

Ogihara being congratulated

Creativity and now goals...looks a bit like Ronaldinho?

Otake's penalty

Friday, 23 September 2011

Kiyotake helping Japan get to London next year

Kiyotake had a hand in both goals against Malaysia and he's making progress for the full national side too this year. Great pass for the first goal and he picked out someone in the box for the second. From Cerezo Yamaguchi and  Ogihara also made appearances.

Asian Champions League Quarterfinal

We can't defend and three away goals wasn't ideal against a strong Jeonbuk side from Korea. But in another ridiculously open game we came out on top. Kiyotake scored the winner and his second, both from Sakemoto corners to make it 4-3 and adding goals from Bando and Bo-Kyung. Next we face a trip to Korea on the 27th, good luck chaps.

Incredible stuff as Hiroshima visit Osaka!

The first half ended with boos from the home fans. Things started badly when we lost our captian and most experienced defender Moniwa early on. Sanfrecce then knocked three past us before half time. There wasn't much choice for Culpi, only a Bando hat-trick could salvage anything so he came on along with Kim Bo-Kyung for the second half. Then all kinds of craziness after the restart. Kiyotake got things going with a great strike Bando got a couple to square the game then Bo-Kyung scored with another fine effort. Bando wrapped up his hat-trick, another riciculously clinical displat from him. Also worth noting was new forward Fabio Lopes who was a great creative force today with some incisive set-up play. Sanfrecce grabbed the last goal in what proved to be one of the craziest games of football you will ever witness.
3-0 up? Don't celebrate yet
Captain stretchered off

Bando reminding the ref he wants the match ball

The highs of being a Cerezo fan
No more boos

Youngsters perform against Urawa

Athough Bando started he couldn't add to his goals scored this season. We ended winning up 3-1 in a packed Nagai Stadium. Particularly pleasing were the contributions from the younger squad members including goals from Hotaru Yamaguchi and Takahiro Ogihara both of whom are members of the Japanese squad aiming to qualify for the Olympics next year.

Great atmoshpere and superb support as usual from the Urawa Reds fans

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Bando hat-trick in Shimizu but only a point for Cerezo vs S-Pulse

Ryuji Bando came off the bench to secure a point away from home at the Outsourcing Stadium Nihondaira. Since Bando joined us he hasn't actually started under Culpi as far as I can remember. We started with Kenyu Sugimoto up top as Komatsu was injured and Fabio Lopes was given a first start too. Sugimoto missed a good headed chance whilst Lopes didn't do much to suggest he's significantly better than any other average Brazilian import in J1. But anyway the day belonged to Bando who got his first from the penalty spot and finished well for the other two goals in a crazy last 15 minutes which left both sets of supporters with sore throats after the match. As usual Cerezo tend to lose concentration just after scoring and frustration crept in as Bando's double was swiftly cancelled out within minutes, the same happened minutes after his hat-trick goal leaving us with a point from the game. Shimizu's goals came from Ono, Takagi and Takahara who looked like they had the game wrapped up until those unforgettable last few minutes.
Cheerleaders at football?

The screen was broken but the big
kit is always a crowd pleaser

The pink and navy army

Culpi: Right, Bando's coming on,
that'll show you!

Bando awaits his game-changing appearance

Prepares to score his first...

...does so with no problem, two more followed

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Kashima Antlers 2 - 1 Cerezo Osaka

On Wednesday in Kashima Soccer Stadium (named to let people now there is no running track here, it's just for football!) the Antlers completed their league double over us. Cerezo captain Teruyuki Moniwa got himself sent off. He got caught out for pace badly (but unusually) and decided to sacrifice himself when it would have been better to let Jin-Hyeon at least attempt a save in the 38th minute. After that we managed to score first through Jin-Kyung after some lucky set up play Komatsu. As happens too often this season we conceded within 5 minutes of scoring at which point heads started to drop. Yuya Osako got that goal. It was just a matter of time before Kashima scored their winner through Chikashi Masuda in the 74th minute. Culpi threw on Fabio Lopes and youngster Kenyu Sugimoto who both would have fared better having a full compliment of outfield players to help them get an equaliser. With or without ten men Kashima were the better team overall, some of their attacking play was class. Jin-Hyeon again made some good saves but his distribution was poor. Next up is Shimizu S-Pulse away.
Moniwa gets his marching orders
No protests from anyone

Kashima fans behind the goal
Bo-Kyung thanks Komatsu for his lucky assist
The stadium was affected by the earthquake
hence the position of the floodlights

Applause and bows but no boos after the final whistle

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Osaka derby

They had all the possession. Bo-Kyung scored a sweet goal off the inside of his left boot (don't go to Stoke!). Jin-Hyeon made a number of fine saves followed by a disappearing act for their equaliser from Sota Nakazawa within the space of a few minutes after we scored. Some of our fans were booing at the end, why? Fair enough it's a derby but the team from Suita are a level above us this season, challenging for the title for example, so I was well pleased with a draw, could've won it in fact, some of the extra thousands that turned up didn't quite get it, even though they got the uniforms and scarves etc. Anyway we're not going down. Fabio Lopes made his debut but couldn't really do much, and, I almost forgot, Gamba had a penalty shout (it was really blatant but the ref was behind the action) denied, oh well. Next stop Kashima Antlers away, three points above us, Wednesday.
The Suita team brought a big kit to a big stadium

Why don't you come to more games? And don't boo afterwards.... unless we actually deserve it.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Oh dear, Kim Jin-Hyeon goes viral

I don't want to post this but it shows how Jin-Hyeon's error has made it around the world thanks mostly to YouTube.

Kawasaki Frontale 1 - 2 Cerezo Osaka

Kawasaki had some good chances and Jin-Hyeon recovered well after he's become something of a youtube sensation due to his error last week. But he produced a solid display including a couple of quality saves from stinging shots, one of which ended with him hitting the post, dedication. In the end that was enough to see us take the three points. We scored another goal from a very similar corner to our last game where Kiyotake was able to head in from the 6-yard box. Our second came from a nice build up and Kurata finished the move well. Also well done to whoever works on set-pieces in training, we saw some threatening and carefully though out free-kicks the kind of which I have never seen before. Perhaps they do this stuff in Brazil all the time but I haven't seen it. But the three points takes us further away from the bottom which is important for Cerezo fans after we finished 3rd last season, it's always a worry we might get relegated! Our first half display was too god for Frontale who picked things up in the second half but couldn't get nything out of the game. A good turnout and atmosphere for the game which included a minute silence for the recently deceased Naoki Matsuda. Terrible news. Our fans chanted his name after the silence was over and had a banner to pay our respects. Kiyotake's good form continiued against Korea on Wednesday in Sapporo's full international between the two neighbouring countries. He got a couple of assists while Kagawa got two goals. Kim Bo-Kyung also came off the bench for Korea who were surprisingly poor. Next up it's Osaka derby time!
Kawasaki's stadium, in the middle of nowhere
Cerezo fans' message to Naoki Matsuda
Another innovative free kick
Kim Bo-Kyung delivers a corner
Our away support bring the noise and colour

Monday, 1 August 2011

Inui's last game: Cerezo 1 - 3 Kashima Antlers

A battle between Brazilian managers and finally my prediction comes true. Today was Inui's last home game and he scored one of his best goals. He picked up the ball near the halfway line before jinking between a few Kashima players and netting our only goal of the game. By this time Kim Jin-Hyeon had already made a couple of decent saves so it wasn't looking easy but then Jin-Hyeon completely lost it. Two goals from Yuzo Tashiro followed before the break. For the first he caught Jin-Hyeon trying to pass the ball out from the back and I guess nobody warned him so Tashiro simply nicked the ball and slotted into an empty net. For Antlers' second Jin-Hyeon went to collect a cross he had no chance of getting and Tashiro nodded home another easy chance. In the second half we won a penalty from a push during a corner. Inui wanted to take it but Bo-Kyung stepped up and had his awful effort easily saved. The final embarressment for Jin-Hyeon was getting lobbed from the halfway line by Mitsuo Ogasawara just before the final whistle. Great goal but suspect postitioning from our young Korean keeper. Jin-Hyeon is his own harshest critic so it'll be interesting to see how he recovers from this. Inui said his farewell and will fly to Germany tomorrow to join Vfl Bochum 1848. In other transfer news Stoke and other teams in England are sniffing around Kim Bo-Kyung who has been described as the next Park Ji-Sung by...Park Ji-Sung. We had a crowd of just over 28,000 last night thanks in part to lots of free ticket offers, the effect of the Japan ladies team winning the World Cup and possibly for people to say goodbye to Inui. The atmosphere was one of the best in a long time. Credit to the Antlers fans for adding to a great night. They came, they sang, they won.
Kashima fans were well rewarded for their sterling effort

A heaving I4

The rare sight of a packed stadium

Jin-Hyeon distraught after he conceded the second

Inui tries his best for his last game, from the resulting corner we win a penalty...

...taken poorly by Kim Bo-Kyung.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

What happened to S-Pulse? Cerezo 4 - 0 Shimizu

Our first game since Pimpao returned to Brazil after an inconsistent few games in J1 but pretty solid performances in the ACL. He won't be missed too badly (if at all) after this result. Martinez returned and Komatsu took up the front man position. The first half was pretty evenly matched and I was pretty worried coming into this game. But the second half belonged to our Korean midfielder Kim Bo-Kyung. Some pretty poor marking from a corner let Bo-Kyung score the first from in the six yard box. He then won a penalty, a decision which could have gone either way, leaving Kurata to convert. So we got a couple of fortunate goals. A few minutes later and Shinji Ono got subbed due to an injury and that seemed to destroy any hope for Shimizu as they never looked like getting back into things. This left Kim Bo-Kyung to grab his well deserved second and Inui to wrap things up with our fourth goal. Deja vu perhaps I've written this before but that could be Inui's last for us, this was played in Nagai Stadium before heading of to VFL Bochum for a bargain price (or his true worth?) of around 300,000 Euros.
Shimizu away fans full of hope

Bo-Kyung (next to the keeper) waits for the delivery to score his first

Kurata prepares to tuck this one away

Shinji Ono's game is over and with it any sign of hope for Shimizu. Oh no indeed.

Vissel Kobe 4 - 1 Cerezo Osaka in Home's Satdium Kobe

Not much to say about the last two losses. We strugggle against ten men nowadays! Kobe looked consistenly dangerous. We missed Martinez's ability to hold possesion in the midfield in this particular game. Old boy Okubo came off the bench for a cameo, he soon left two of our players for dead. Then he won and converted a penalty. Come back to Cerezo!
One of the better J-League stadiums

Okubo converts the penalty he won
Vissel fans celebrate their fourth of the night

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Another victory against 10 men! Hiroshima 1 - 3 Cerezo

Sanfrecce Hiroshima were in 4th place before this game. A terrible back pass in the 2nd minute allowed Tadanari Lee to fire home and get their keeper to join in an amusing goal celebration. Lee, Japan's Asian Cup final hero, looks likely to join the growing number of Japanese plying their trade in the Bundesliga with Hertha Berlin a possible destination. A similar defensive error by the home team this time allowed Kurata to equalise in the 33rd minute as Nishikawa, their keeper, looked for sympathy from the ref.

The whole team celebrate a fortunate opener
The keeper's luck soon changed for the equaliser

The ref had shown Sanfrecce three yellows by this point in the game. Sanfrecce's Morisaki was shown his first yellow shortly after our goal. In similar circumstances to last week he picked up a second yellow soon after this in the 42nd minute when he appeared to handle the ball deliberately. Cerezo players looked bemused as the Sancfrecce ones argued in vain with the card happy official. We still had some work to do as were drawing the game but we could certainly afford to relax a lot more.
 The ref ignores the protests and puts his cards back while our players look forward to another 2nd half against 10 men.
We came out with all guns blazing in the second half with Kiyotake's reputation growing further with an impressive curled finish from just outside the box. The big man Komatsu starting today in Pimpao's absence put the game to bed in the 51st minute and despite Jin-Hyeon being forced to pull off a couple of saves we were in no real danger after that. Again after the final whistle the officials had to leave the stadium to a chorus of boos. I wasn't too fussed this time, our players didn't egg the referee to show so many cards or in any way contribute to Morisaki's sending off so it was quite an enjoyable away victory which sees us climb to 10th in the league. Next up Jubilo Iwata, who are 9th visit Kincho Stadium in Nagai on Wednesday.
Our away support, happy.

The Hiroshima Stadium partially surrounded by greenery

A big uniform in the Big Arch Stadium

Culpi congratulates Kiyotake after his stunner

The Great Violet Kingdom, not happy.