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Kim leads unbeaten Cerezo to victory over Frontale

by Andrew Mckirdy

Staff Writer

Cerezo Osaka ended Kawasaki Frontale’s perfect start to the new J. League season and maintained their own unbeaten record with a 1-0 victory on Saturday.

Frontale headed into the match buoyed by two wins from their opening two fixtures, but a 75th-minute goal from South Korean Olympic team forward Kim Bo Kyung was enough to check that momentum at Todoroki Stadium.

The result gives Cerezo a second win to build on their opening-day draw with Sagan Tosu, but new manager Sergio Soares knows there is still plenty to do after taking over from fellow Brazilian Levir Culpi in the offseason.

“I’m very happy that we’ve been getting results, but we have to keep working to improve tactically and as a team,” he said. “The J. League season is long and very difficult, and we need to keep working hard in order to keep growing.”

Cerezo’s midfield featured three members of Japan’s Under-23 Olympic team in Hiroshi Kiyotake, Takahiro Ogihara and Hotaru Yamaguchi — as well as 22-year-old Kim — and Soares was more than happy to reap the enthusiastic benefits of youth.

“We were the away team, but despite that we kept on attacking until the end,” he said. “I don’t want us to play any differently whether we are at home or away. I’m very satisfied with this result.”

Kiyotake wasted an early chance to head Cerezo in front when he missed the target in the fourth minute, and teammates Kempes and Kim were also guilty of profligacy when they blazed over the bar in a goalless but entertaining opening 45 minutes.

Koji Yamase shot just wide as Frontale began to dominate possession in the second half, but barely a minute had passed before Kim pounced to break the deadlock. Cerezo substitute Yoichiro Kakitani found space to reach the byline inside the Frontale box, and Kim took a touch to control his cutback before slipping a left-foot shot beyond goalkeeper Yohei Nishibe.

“I didn’t score in our first two matches, so I wanted to get on the scoresheet today,” said Kim. “I knew that if we could manage to get down the wings then the ball would come to me.”

An injury-time foul on the edge of the box earned a red card for Cerezo’s Kota Fujimoto and a last chance for Frontale, but Renato could do no better than hit his free kick straight into the Cerezo wall.

“We needed more ideas and courage today, but the league has only just started,” said Frontale manager Naoki Soma. “I’m looking on the positive side, and there were a lot of things to be positive about today. But it doesn’t count for much if you don’t get the results.”

Frontale’s defeat means there are only two teams left with 100 percent records. Vegalta Sendai hammered Omiya Ardija 4-1 to top the league, while FC Tokyo also moved onto nine points after beating previously perfect Vissel Kobe 2-0.

There was no such joy for Kashima Antlers, however, after a 2-0 loss to Sanfrecce Hiroshima condemned Jorginho’s side to three defeats out of three, all without scoring a single goal.

Sagan beat Yokohama F. Marinos 1-0 to claim their first-ever win in the top flight, Urawa Reds beat Consadole Sapporo 2-1, while Kashiwa Reysol were at home to Shimizu S-Pulse in the day’s late game.