Gamba Osaka Runners-Up in 100th Emperor's Cup
Emperor's Cup Semi-Final - Gamba Osaka 2-0 Tokushima Vortis
And so, Gamba met J2 champions Tokushima Vortis at Panasonic Stadium Suita in the second semi-final of the day. knowing their opponents would be J1 champions Kawasaki Frontale. 7,055 lucky fans, in a limited ticket sale, saw their heroes win through to the New Year's Day final with a comfortable 2-0 victory, with goals from Patric and Yuya Fukuda sealing their place in the centennial final.
Team - Higashiguchi, Takao, Miura, Kim, Fujiharu, Yajima (Okuno, 87). Yamamaoto, Onose (Fukuda, 81), Kurata (Tsukamoto, 87), Watanabe (Usami, 61), Patric
Yuya FUKUDA 82'
Emperor's Cup Final - Gamba Osaka 0-1 Kawasaki Frontale
Team - Higashiguchi, Takao, Miura, Kim, Fujiharu (Fukuda, 74), Yajima. Yamamoto (Watanabe, 74), Onose (Tsukamoto, 80), Kurata, Usami, Patric
Gamba went into the final of the 100th Emperor's Cup in a defensive frame of mind and set out to nullify the well-known and very successful attacking side of Kawasaki frontale's game. This seemed to be working successfully for the 1st half, with defenders doing their jobs well, and goalkeeper Masaaki Higashiguchi doing his part when called upon. Meanwhile the attacking section of Tsuneyasu Miyamoto's team tried to break and grab the goal on the counter.
10 minutes after the restart, however, Kaoru Mitoma managed to find a way through to a threaded pass forward and, after seeing two earlier efforts wide or saved, gave his team the lead. With half an hour to go the tactics needed changing and changed they were. From this moment on Gamba reverted to passing, possession and looking for the goal that would bring them level. As time ran out the Frontale defence was put under more pressure and Gamba came close to getting the goal to take the game into extra time, but it was not to be. A narrow 1-0 defeat ended Gamba's season with 2nd place in J1, and 2nd place in the Emperor's Cup.
And so to 2021, and an Asian Champions League campaign with an ever-improving young team ready to me the best in the region.