In front of Japan manager Vahid Halilhodzic, Kurata had been elected to play defensive midfield - alongside Yosuke Ideguchi - with Yasuyuki Konno still out injured, and Yasuhito Endo taking a break on the bench. Kurata was impressive enough in his position but made the biggest impact a minute after Gamba manager Kenta Hasegawa changed his formation, bringing Endo on and pushing Kurata forward. Moments later the Gamba midfield were carving open the away defence and Kurata was finishing emphatically to bring his team deservedly level.
Jungo Fujimoto - getting little more time on the field this season - came close to opening the scoring when a superbly-cushioned header by Shun Nagasawa created the space for the shot, but a last-ditch interception came in as the Gamba man pulled the trigger!
Tiago Alves broke the deadlock with a goal from nowhere for the away team, against the run of play, blasting home from long distance just after the restart. After the goal, normal service resumed and the majority of the close-to-32,000 crowd awaited the equaliser. That goal came immediately after Gamba manager Kenta Hasegawa made two changes, bringing on Yasuhito Endo and Jun Izumisawa, putting Endo in a central midfield position and allowing Kurata to advance up the field. The move paid immediate dividends as a superb passing move split the defence wide open and Kurata blasted home as the hour mark approached. There were opportunities to win the match for the home team but a parked orange bus and a lack of killer touch ensured that S-Pulse left with a point and Gamba moved on to their final ACL group match a little disappointed.
Team - Higashiguchi, Oh, Miura, Fabio, Fujiharu (Yonekura, 86), Ideguchi, Kurata, Fujimoto (Endo, 56), Doan, Nagasawa, Ademilson (Izumisawa, 56)
57' Shu KURATA