Gamba Osaka 1-0 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
The game remained scoreless going into the break and the 2nd half was much of the same with Gamba playing 10-15-20 passes or more, and keeping the ball from their visitors for lengthy passages of play, but never really getting anywhere that mattered. Sanfrecce continued to create chances whenever they could get the ball off the home team and Higashiguchi was called into action again on a blast from Takuya Wada, but whatever Sanfrecce threw at this defence it stayed resolute.
As the game neared its climax, Kazuma Watanabe got on the end of a move down the left but his shot from close range hit the floor, bounced up and was an easy take for Takuto Hayashi in the away goal, but the home crowd could sense the goal coming, and got louder and louder as the game continued.
As the 84th minute ticked in, a left wing Yasuhito Endo corner was swung in for Gamba and it was the unfortunate Patric who headed the ball on to the waiting Hwang Ui-jo to poke home from point blank range and give Gamba the lead that had been coming all match! It was the third game in-a-row that Hwang had scored since his return from the Asian Games, and it eventually gave Gamba their 4th win running, while knocking their visitors off the top of the table! An extremely satisfying day for those who remember the 2015 Championship Series and the antics that the Sanfrecce players go up to then. Revenge is served!
Once Gamba had made that deserved breakthrough the floodgates came closer to opening, with Endo coming very close after a lightning move to find him in front of the goal. His shot on the bounce flying just over as the helpless 'keeper looked on. Moments later it was substitute Ademilson who caused chaos down the right before Sanfrecce's Yuki Nogami turned the ball onto his own post and out, but if he had not made the play Watanabe had a simple tap-in at the far post.
In the end the away team were fortunate to escape with just a 1-0 defeat as Gamba marched onward and upward!
Team - Higashiguchi, Oh, Fabio, Miura, Fujiharu, Konno, Endo, Onose (Fujimoto, 83), Watanabe, Kurata (Yonekura, 90), Hwang (Ademilson, 85)
Goal: HWANG 84'
Attendance - 34,660