Yoshito Okubo and Jun Kanakubo sprung a second-half comeback on the hosts in Yoichiro Kakitani's final game for the clubMarco Pezzaiuoli began his tenure in Japan with a defeat on Wednesday as his Cerezo Osaka side went down 2-1 to a spirited Kawasaki Frontale.
Kincho Stadium, Cerezo’s second ground, was sold out with over 15,000 supporters there to welcome the former Hoffenheim manager and to bid farewell to substitute Yoichiro Kakitani in his final match before joining Switzerland’s FC Basel.
The hosts went ahead early on when 19-year-old Takumi Minamino cleverly cut the ball back to Jun Ando, who calmly slotted home. Cerezo should have added to their lead before the interval but were denied several times by Frontale keeper Rikihiro Sugiyama.
They were made to pay for that on the hour mark when Yoshito Okubo equalised from the penalty spot after Yu Kobayashi had been fouled. Frontale took the lead in the 76th minute through Jun Kanakubo and Cerezo were reduced to 10 men two minutes later when Minamino was shown a straight red card for lashing out at Frontale midfielder Ryota Oshima.
Pezzaiuoli, who replaced the sacked Ranko Popovic last month, responded by bringing on former Brisbane Roar loan signing Ryo Nagai as well as Kakitani, who in 12 minutes of play demonstrated what the Swiss crowds can look forward to.
The result sent Frontale - who along with Cerezo had a game in hand due to AFC Champions League duties - to third place in the J-League standings.