OSAKA - Despite dominating possession and completing twice as many passes as their opponents, Cerezo Osaka needed a late equalizer from Spanish defender Osmar to salvage a 1-1 draw against Jubilo Iwata on Friday night.
Jubilo came into the match five spots below fifth-place Cerezo following an embarrassing 6-1 loss to Nagoya Grampus in the previous round.
Having been forced to play defense for most of the first half, they went ahead 10 minutes after the break when midfielder Taishi Taguchi set up Nagisa Sakurauchi with an opportunistic assist.
Following an attacking movement originating inside Jubilo’s own half, Shohei Takahashi launched a cross from the right that Cerezo goalkeeper Kim Jin-hyeon brought down but did not hold onto.
Lurking goal side of the South Korean custodian, Taguchi poked the ball into the path of Sakurauchi, who scored with a half volley from just inside the area.
Cerezo’s Brazilian midfielder Souza set up the equalizer with a 78th-minute corner kick, sending an in-swinging ball to the 192-cm Osmar at the near post.
The strike was the Spanish center back’s second J. League goal since joining Cerezo on loan from FC Seoul in February.
He was denied a winner off another corner kick moments later when Tomohiko Miyazaki was ruled to have cleared his headed shot on the goal line. Subsequent replays indicated the ball may have crossed.
“We fought hard but unfortunately couldn’t score the winner,” said the 30-year-old Osmar. “I’m glad I scored, but I would’ve been much happier with a win.”
Following the Grampus loss, Jubilo manager Hiroshi Nanami gave 21-year-old forward Koki Ogawa his first start since returning from a shoulder injury that kept him out of action from mid-July.
With South Korean manager Yoon Jong-hwan instructing them to keep the ball, Cerezo had 68 percent of possession and completed 563 passes to Jubilo’s 270.
Cerezo playmaker Hotaru Yamaguchi won a corner in the 15th minute when he forced Jubilo ‘keeper Krzysztof Kaminski into a save with a long-range shot from straight in front.
He tested Kaminski again from a similar position 10 minutes later, this time with a volley that the Polish gloveman was able to corral.
The Japan World Cup squad member played Yoichiro Kakitani into the box with a first touch through ball on 31 minutes, but the forward passed up a shot on his left foot, switching to his right before being smothered by defenders.
Moments later, Souza sailed a shot from the edge of the box just outside the left upright.
The home side came closest to scoring in the first half when Toshiyuki Takagi hit the post from the top right corner of the box two minutes from the break.
Jubilo created few first-half chances and looked most dangerous from corner kicks, with 40-year-old dead ball maestro Shunsuke Nakamura curling them in from both sides.
In Friday night’s other J. League match, Yuma Suzuki scored an injury-time winner as the Kashima Antlers topped visiting Shonan Bellmare 2-1.
Shoma Doi put the Antlers ahead in the four minutes into the second half, but his goal was canceled out when substitute Tsukasa Umesaki scored for Bellmare in the 66th minute.