OSAKA – Japan striker Yoichiro Kakitani scored a late equalizer to rescue a point for Cerezo Osaka in a 1-1 draw at home to Kashiwa Reysol on Sunday.
Masato Kudo’s first-half strike looked set to give Reysol maximum points and cap a memorable week after they reached the semifinals of the Asian Champions League for the first time on Wednesday.
But Kakitani slotted home his 15th goal of the season with seven minutes left to give Levir Culpi’s men a share of the spoils.
“It was a close game right until the end. We might have only got a point, but I think we were closer to winning it (than Kashiwa)” said Culpi. “Sometimes soccer is like that.”
The result puts Cerezo on 41 points, 10 behind leaders Yokohama F. Marinos, who beat Shimizu S-Pulse on Saturday. Kashiwa is 10th on 37 points.
Cerezo had the first chance of a lively opening period, Kakitani testing Kashiwa keeper Takanori Sugeno from close range after a flowing move in the 23rd minute.
Kim Jin-hyeon produced an even better stop at the other end to keep out Wataru Hashimoto’s volley from point-blank range, but Reysol took the lead through a clinical strike from Kudo seven minutes before halftime, the Japan striker prodding home first time from Masakatsu Sawa’s headed pass.
In a thrilling climax to the game, Kashiwa hit the post through Jorge Wagner on 81 minutes, but Kakitani leveled when he buried a flick-on from Kenyu Sugimoto.
Sugimoto then headed against the post, but Simplicio could only scuff the rebound wide.
“It was a hard game for us. We have had a tough week,” said Kashiwa manager Nelsinho. “Cerezo have been a strong team this year and were at home but we gave a good performance.”