With the new incoming foreign contingent of Leandro Pereira, Tiago Alves and Ju Se-jong all on the bench, and with Takashi Usami and Kim Young-gwon not even in the squad, it was an experimental, or even make-shift Gamba Osaka team that took the field. Also on the bench were Gen Shoji and Ryu Takao, with the returning-from-loan Kazunari Ichimi also riding the pine.
Due to all the changes the team lined up in a 4-3-3 formation, with Kosuke Onose at right back, Shunya Suganuma and captain Genta Miura in central defence and the evergreen Hiroki Fujiharu on the left. Yosuke Ideguchi and Yuki Yamamoto were tasked with holding midfield, with some help from Shu Kurata, while Patric spearheaded the forward line, flanked by Shinya Yajima and young Shuhei Kawasaki.
The game began well with both teams having chances and thrusting and parrying from both sets pf players and it seemed to quite even when 2020 breakout star Kaoru Mitoma opened the scoring for the champions and put Gamba behind a minute before the half-hour mark. Minutes later it was 2-0 as a mis-hit shot from a Frontale player arrowed to Mitoma, who seemed to think he was offside as he flicked a boot at the ball and guided it home. VAR was deployed to convince TV viewers that the player was onside and suddenly it was 2-0, and that's how it remained at the break.
Gamba came out of the blocks fast in the 2nd half and had their opponents on the back foot often, and as the clock hit the hour a goal was pulled back as Yajima controlled the ball with aplomb in the area, and rifled home a sweet half volley to halve the deficit.Seven minutes later Gamba were level, after the referee gave a penalty kick for handball, which was blasted home by Patric to level the scores.
To their credit, and to the joy of fans watching the game around the world, both teams went looking for the win, and Gamba brought on their two new Brazilians just after the equaliser, while leaving Patric on the field, to show they meant attacking business!
The ball was end to end as both teams had half chances and tested the goalkeepers but, as the clock headed into the 6th and final added minute, and it seemed the game was heading to penalty kicks, the legendary Yu Kobayashi shot across Masaaki Higashiguchi and saw the ball sneak inside the far post to give his side a last-gasp victory and disappoint Gamba Osaka fans around the world.
Team - Higashiguchi, Onose, Miura, Suganuma, Fujiharu, Ideguchi, Yamamoto, Kurata (Takao, 90+1), Yajima (Tiago Alves, 69), Patric (Ichimi, 81), Kawasaki (Leandro Pereira, 69)
Shinya YAJIMA 60'