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ACL Recap: Cerezo Osaka vs Jeju United

Jeju United traveled to Osaka on Matchday Five to take on Cerezo, knowing that only a win by a fairly significant margin would stand them any chance of seeing the knockout stages.  Jeju lost at home over the weekend against Suwon Bluewings by a score of 1-0, making it the third time they have been blanked on home ground this season.  Cerezo, meanwhile, picked up their first victory of the season in the J League, winning at home against Shonan.  Cerezo came into the match in a good position to advance, knowing that a win would likely send them through and halt Jeju's aspirations for continental success this season.  The two teams met at the beginning of the campaign, with the Japanese side winning it late courtesy of a Kota Mizunuma strike in injury time.  The result was no different in the reverse fixture, as Cerezo won 2-1, putting themselves in a strong position to go through, while Jeju are now officially out of the competition.

(Photo courtesy of jeju-utd.com)

The match began as many have for Jeju this season - slowly.  Despite several changes to the lineup which lost at the weekend, there was little noticeable difference in the style of play, as Jeju were content to just knock the ball around the park without causing any threat to their opponents' goal.

It was Cerezo who would seize the initiative early on, which resulted in several consecutive corners.  It was from the set piece that the Japanese would go into the lead just after a quarter of an hour, as a ball that was swung in from the corner flag was met by Eiichi Katayama, whose foot connected squarely with the ball, sending it into the net off the underside of the bar.

Jeju could have drawn level only minutes later, when Magno sent a through ball to an advancing Tiago Marques, who had space and time, but questionably stopped just outside the area to shoot, making the save a routine one for Kim Jin-hyeon in the Cerezo goal.

On the next foray into the Jeju end, Cerezo won another corner, and Magno went down in the box, taking a hit to the knee.  He was down for several minutes, but managed to stay in the match.

Jeju came close to tying the score once again just before the half hour mark, but was denied twice, as a Lee Chang-min free kick was parried away by Kim, and then a Ryu Seung-woo volley from just outside the box was also kept out.

Cerezo would double their advantage just minutes later, as Yoichiro Kakitani walked around a sleeping Jeju defence that looked as though it was ballwatching, to put the home side two goals to the good with just over ten minutes left in the first half.

Magno, who had gone down injured earlier in the half, was substituted off for Kim Do-yeop, and the feeling was that there would be little that Jeju could do to get back into the match.

Cerezo almost had a third midway through the second half, as an errant backpass from Kweon Han-jin found the feet of Kakitani, but Lee Chang-geun came off his line to prevent the margin from being widened further.

Jin Seong-uk came on in the 66th minute to try and add another dimension to Jeju's attack, but it was a risky move, as Jeju's already shaky defence on the night was constantly open to getting hit on the counter.

It would be Seong-uk who would score a consolation goal for Jeju in second half injury time to cut the deficit, but it was a case of much too little, much too late as Jeju crashed out of the competition following what was yet another dismal performance overall.

While it is only early days, one wonders what the motivation level of these players are.  Is it a possibility that coach Cho Sung-hwan is not the right man for the job at this time?  He expressed regret for the result following the match, saying that the focus would now shift over to the K League in a bid to turn things around, saying that he would "make efforts to concentrate and rebound in the league as soon as possible."

For a team which has been accustomed to filling the net over the past two seasons, as soon as possible starts with the next match out at the weekend against Sangju Sangmu in the K League.  The season is off to a terrible start, and if things are not turned around soon, he could soon be shown the door if he can't pick up the pieces and steer the ship in the right direction.

The clock is ticking, and time is expiring quickly.


Manager: Yoon Jung-hwan
Substitutes: H. Yamaguchi for M. Nishimoto (72'); Y. Kimoto for K. Yakamura (81'); T. Takagi for T. Fukumitsu (86'); K. Mizunuma; Y. Maruhashi; Yang Dong-hyun; K. Tanno

Manager: Cho Sung-hwan
Substitutes: Kim Do-yeop for Magno Cruz (37'); Jin Seong-uk for Cho Yong-hyung (66'); Lee Dong-soo for Lee Chan-dong (83'); Park Jin-po; Kwon Soon-hyung; A. Jovanovic; Park Han-keun

Referee: I. Tantashev
Assistants: A. Tsapenko, T. Gaynulin
Fourth Official: T. Faizullin
Attendance: 9,066

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