J.League Classic Match: #4 Tragedy in the dying minutes – First league title slips away from Cerezo Osaka

J.League Classic Match: #4 Tragedy in the dying minutes – First league title slips away from Cerezo Osaka

It was the most important game in the history of Cerezo Osaka. On the final day of the 2005 J1 League, after climbing to the top of the table, they hosted FC Tokyo at Nagai—their home stadium. Three points would have secured them their first league title. With Gamba Osaka only a point behind in second place, a draw could mean a good chance that Cerezo would lose the trophy and deliver it to their crosstown rival. The players entered the pitch under huge pressure…

However, only three minutes after kickoff, they took the lead through striker Akinori Nishizawa’s header. FC Tokyo’s answer came quite soon, as they equalized in the 20th minute. Cerezo then missed a huge opportunity, failing to convert from the spot and the first half ended on the 1-1 score.

Early into the second half, Nishizawa struck again to recover Cerezo’s lead. They then endured FC Tokyo’s intensive attacks and their first league title was right in front of them, but an unexpected turn of events awaited in the end. In additional time, Yasuyuki Konno tucked in a rebound from a corner and FC Tokyo equalized. The match ended 2-2. Cerezo’s first ever league title slipped away in the last minute, as Gamba had earned three points to win the league in a dramatic way.

It was the second time Cerezo experienced such “tragedy,” as they also had failed to clinch the title in the first stage of the 2000 season by losing the key match conceding a golden goal.



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