Vissel Kobe 0-2 Gamba Osaka
It was Usami and Hiroki Fujiharu combining on the left wing to create the first chance in the 4th minute, and, while Usami didn't hit the ball well, the 'keeper seemed unsighted and the ball squeaked past the post after Hiroki Iikura in the home goal got a late hand to it. From the corner Kim Young-gwon rose to head inches past the other post with the goalkeeper again scrambling late, as Gamba looked for the opener.
Vissel were usually kept away from the danger area but Masaaki Higashiguchi in the away goal was called into action in the 40th minute as the always exciting Kyogo Furuhashi found space to curl a 20-yard shot in, forcing the Gamba 'keeper to palm the ball wide from low down.
Minutes before the break Gamba midfield dynamo Shinya Yajima blasted a ball perfectly from 30 yards out as it came across him, but it was straight at the 'keeper who had no trouble gathering the ball. Half time, no goals, but Gamba looking the more likely to score.
The 2nd half got underway with those Usami corners continuing to be dangerous, as Yuji Ono got on the end of an out-swinger to head just wide in the 7th minute of the second period, and it was Ono who finally got the breakthrough just after the hour mark as Ryu Takao threaded a low ball through a forest of legs to the open striker, who right-footed the ball home to give the away team a thoroughly-deserved breakthrough.
Gamba now kept the ball as much as they could showing less urgency but passing and moving well to lessen any possible impact for the home team. Higashiguchi was called into action again in the 73rd minute but Junya Tanaka's shot was easy for the Gamba number 1. It was a more difficult save that he made minutes later when the genius of Andres Iniesta was finally seen as he slid the ball through a narrow passage for Furuhashi to shoot, but Higashiguchi was equal to the Vissel youngster. The same pair jousted again soon after with Furuhashi seeing his header saved in the top corner as Gamba held on against increasing pressure.
Emphasising just how much trust Tsuneyasu Miyamoto is putting in youth, and how much he believes in the young players that he developed in his time as manager of the Under 23 squad, Riku Matsuda made his J1 debut in the 75th minute - despite the team only leading by that solitary goal - and was immediately in the referee's notebook, earning a yellow card for a mis-timed tackle on Andres Iniesta - a moment the youngster won't forget in a hurry!
Just as the home team may have felt they could grab a point here, that man Usami showed a touch of magic to win the game for Gamba! Yosuke Ideguchi and Fujiharu exchanged short passes on the left before Ideguchi slipped it inside for Usami to take, turn and blast an unstoppable 25-yard shot into the top corner. Game. Set. Match! It was Usami's ninth J1 goal against Vissel Kobe, a feat that has earned him the nickname "Kobe Killer" from TV commentators! The Shin-Han Derby produced three points for Gamba!
10 of the 14 players used today came through the Gamba Osaka youth system, showing once again the value of developing youngsters and the results of using the Under 23 team in J3 for that development. Long may the youngsters emerge. Four wins in-a-row for Gamba, three points off the top in second place in J1, and the division leaders - Kawasaki Frontale - to visit the Panasonic Stadium this coming weekend!
Team - Higashiguchi, Takao (Matsuda, 75), Miura, Kim, Fukuda (Kurokawa, 87), Fujiharu, Ideguchi, Yajima, Ono (Kurata, 62), Watanabe (Yamamoto, 87), Usami (Patric, 87)
Yuji ONO 62'
Takashi USAMI 86'