Meiji Yasuda J1 League
Shimizu S-Pulse 2-1 Cerezo Osaka
Saturday December 4th 2pm
IAI Stadium Nihondaira , Shizuoka
S-PULSE GOALS Matusoka(14)
DF Hara, Suzuki, Valdo, Katayama
MF Takeuchi, Matsuoka, Nishizawa, Goto
FW Suzuki, Thiago
Yamahara on for Goto (71)
Nakayama on for Nishizawa(80)
Disaro on for Suzuki Yuito (80)
Tatsuta on for Thiago(87)
Miyamoto on for Matsuoka(87)
We, they, did it!
And all that in style, chalking up their third successive win, and with interim Head Coach Hiroaki Hiraoka unbeaten to actually finish one spot higher!
They had to overcome plenty of problems because of a full infirmary but the team at last proved its depth and potential.
Looking back at the rest of the season it became evident that the cause of all their troubles was not player’s potential or quality but a wrong approach in mental preparation. They spoke of “mental rebound”, and it was simply night and day with the rest of the competition. Suddenly you had a team fighting from beginning to end regardless of setbacks and (very few) errors. And the joy was truly there when they scored as shown by their communication with the whole staff and bench.
The match started well enough with S-Pulse creating many chances that went begging. In fact, they had three times as many shots on target, and Cerezo were at times lucky to escape unscathed.
In the 3rd minute Valdo saw his fine heading from Nishizawa’s corner kick saved on the line.
In the 34th minute, S-Pulse’s defense was guilty of laziness and Cerezo’s first shot of the day was a long-range attempt which was only saved by the post.
In the following minute disaster struck when a corner kick was not protected well enough and Takeuchi could only push the ball into an own goal.
But the whole team put it behind and resumed attacking in even greater earnest.
Yuito Suzuki almost scored in the 45th minute after Hara has sweetly sent him through inside the box.
But their efforts were finally rewarded in the dying seconds of the first half when Nishizawa’s vicious free kick from outside the box was met by a rushing Yoshinori Suzuki who just had to tap the ball in.
Th second half saw early domination by S-Pulse and in the 51st minute Cerezo could not cleanly repulse Santana’s cross at the end of a fine combined attack and Nishizawa worked its way from outside the left corner of the box before curling a beautiful shot with his left foot (he is right-footed!) into the opposite top corner of the net leaving no chance to the opposite goal keeper. Very much the goal of the day!
The game continued at a fast pace with more occasions coming to both sides. In the 64th minute Matsuoka’s bullet from outside the box could have killed the game but the bar saved a helpless opposite goalkeeper. In the 76th minute Gonda has to use all his skills to palm away a heading at the last second. But then Head Coach Hiraoka reinforced the defense with his substitutes to see the game safely ended.
The many players and staff’s emotional faces and even some crying epitomized everybody’s feelings on that day. But next year will be different, what with being built with sweat and tears all year round.