Analysis: Kashima hold out to progress in game of two halves
Hiroshima: Sanfrecce Hiroshima fought right until the end in the second leg of their 2019 AFC Champions League Round of 16 second leg, earning a 3-2 win over Kashima Antlers, but it wasn’t enough to advance to the quarter finals as their J.League rivals progressed on the away goals rule after the tie ended 3-3 on aggregate.
Holding a 1-0 lead from the first leg, Kashima took a first half lead to double their aggregate advantage, but after the interval the game's momentum changed entirely as hosts Sanfrecce came roaring back.
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Brazilian striker Patric has been used predominantly as an impact player off the bench this season, and he played that role to perfection on Tuesday.
Coming on at half time, he quickly got Sanfrecce Hiroshima back in the game and his presence up front caused issues for Kashima’s defence, which had until that point looked relatively comfortable.
In just a half of football he had six shots, four of which were on target and two of which were goals, while he also won six of the 10 duels he contested. His presence alongside Douglas Vieira changed the way Sanfrecce attacked and made them more threatening going forward.
If there was one player for the home side who could match Patric’s impact it was captain Yoshifumi Kashiwa.
The veteran 31-year-old completed a power of work, predominantly down the right, as shown on his heat map below, and his ability to continually get in behind the Kashima defence, particularly in the second half, created numerous chances for the three-time J.League champions.
In total he completed 47 passes at a passing accuracy of 77%, but perhaps most importantly he was able to create three chances on the night, providing one assist.
Kashima Antlers knew they had the advantage coming into the second leg, so they were more comfortable sitting off and forcing the home side to make the play, especially after Shoma Doi gave them a first half lead.
As shown by the average positions (below), Kashima’s attackers pushed right up to compress the field and limit the space that Sanfrecce Hiroshima had to play in.
This meant Kashima played largely on the counter attack, looking to draw the Sanfrecce defence up high before pouncing on the counter. Both of their goals came as a result of swift counter attacks, while they could easily have had a third were it not for Serginho’s chip going just wide when the score was still 1-0 early in the second half.
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