Apart from the change up front, we also saw arguably all three first-choice centre backs out of the team (Genta Miura injured, Gen Shoji on the bench and Kim Young-gwon out of the squad altogether), with Shunya Suganuma and Ryo Shinzato lining up alongside Ryu Takao in a back line that was so fluid it could switch from three to four to five as the ball changed direction! Shinya Yajima was also back in the starting line-up after ankle problems.
This was an unusual game in the fact that the home team had more possession and made more passes than Gamba Osaka, who usually control games, but Gamba rarely looked under any pressure and seemed to be allowing this to happen, taking control of the game whenever the ball was theirs. This was very much the case for the opening goal of the game after Gamba had patiently waited for the ball and then regained possession on the left win through Shu Kurata, who advance forward and sent a low cross in to the box. The control and shot by Watanabe was a moment of sublime skill and he took the cross with one touch, teeing it up for a half volley with the next touch and it was 1-0!
Gamba were almost 2-0 ahead moments later as a long ball from the back was perfectly set up for Ademilson running onto it, the bouncing ball inviting the lob over the advancing 'keeper, but the hands of that 'keeper were just high enough to deny the Brazilian forward. There was no denying him three minutes later, though, as he exchanged passes with Watanabe in the Gamba half and then set off sprinting down the right wing as Watanabe himself followed in the centre of the filed. Ademilson waited, then timed his pass to perfection to see Watanabe again take one touch to control and set up a shot that notched his 100th J1 goal! Gamba Osaka 2-0 up and cruising before the break. The confidence of Miyamoto's Men was such that a Yosuke Ideguchi cross to the far post was met with a rasping left foot volley by Hiroki Fujiharu that would have been a goal of the season contender, but it was not to be. This time!
Rotation of the squad, to lessen possible fatigue with so many games in such a short time, continued at half time, with Fujiharu and Kurata replaced by Kosuke Onose and Shuhei Kawasaki and Gamba took up where they had left off at the break as a superb passing move found space for Kawasaki to shoot from the edge of the area. With four desperate defenders in front of him a deflection sent the ball for a corner.
Sagan Tosu then started to get a little more action up front but their chances, when they came were off target, when they really should have been making Masaaki Higashiguchi work. It took substitute Renzo Lopez' absolutely crushing Yuya Fukuda from behind to head home a goal in added time to get the home team a breakthrough that was both too late, and probably illegal in most prefectures! Gamba march on with another win!
Team - Higashiguchi, Takao, Suganuma, Shinzato, Fukuda, Fujiharu (Onose, 46), Ideguchi, Yajima (Yamamoto, 71), Kurata (Kawasaki, 46), Ademilson (Usami, 65), Watanabe (Patric, 81),
Kazuma WATANABE 21', 34'