Managr Tsuneyasu Miyamoto was forced to play Yota Sato at right back today, with Keisuke Kurokawa continuing at left back as Gamba continued to miss Yuya Fukuda, Hiroki Fujiharu, Kosuke Onose and Ryu Takao, among many injuries affecting the squad. Sadly, no spectators were allowed at the game due to Corina virus restrictions.
Despite being up against the best team in the division, and not being able to score goals recently, Gamba went for it from kick-off, as always and Takashi Usami came close in the 9th minute, his left foot shot after a counter attack flying just wide of the 'keeper's right hand post. In the 20th minute, though, it was the turn of Masaaki Higashiguchi to come to his team's rescue as he got down low at his left post to save brilliantly from Joao Schmidt at a corner. Injury in 2019, and then the Corona virus hitting us in the last two seasons have all but ended the Gamba 'keepers international aspirations, but he surely must be the best Japanese goalkeeper around at the moment!
Tragedy struck the home team just before the break as the game went from one end to the other, Usami's cross finishing no one in a promising position, the ball flowing to the other end of the field and unfortunately ending at the feet of Leandro Damiao as Sato got in the tackle to snuff out the initial threat. The Frontale marksman had the simple task of blasting into a gaping goal - though even then Higashiguchi got an arm to the shot - to give his team a fortunate 1-0 lead at the break. Leandro Pereira had the chance to equalise just before the break but could not quite get under a Kurokawa cross and his header went over.
A wicked deflection on a shot then almost gave Frontale another fortunate goal as the 2nd half warmed up but Higashiguchi was equal to it again, but Gamba had to go looking for an equaliser and gaps were being left at the back. The 64th minute saw Kurokawa with, dare I say it, a Kaoru Mitoma-esque run down the wing and into the box only to see his final attempt snuffed out before anything came of it. Gamba still attacked and Yosuke Ideguchi was kicked in the back by Joao Schmidt, but somehow received no sympathy from the referee, and then the follow-up shot was blocked down low at the post by the busy away 'keeper and then just as Gamba looked on the up they were killed off by a sucker punch. Leandro Periera moved forward on the half way line but was tackled from behind and brought down - no foul was given and the ball was sent over to the left wing. The rest is history. From an attack, and a possible foul, Mitoma - on as a substitute - showed what he could do, racing past Sato and then shooting across Higashiguchi to put the game beyond Gamba's reach, just when they thought they had a way back in.
Despite being 2-0 down, the home team still looked for that way back, though, and Okuno saw a left-foot blast go over the bar from distance and then Patric found himself in front of goal but could not quite get over the ball and his header was high. And so, another defeat but encouraging signs from a very depleted team. Onto the next game it is!
Team - Higashiguchi, Sato, Miura, Shoji, Kurokawa, Ideguchi (Yajima, 70), Yamamoto (Kurata, 70), Okuno, Ichimi (Tiago Alves, 80), Usami (Ju, 80), Leandro Pereira (Patric, 80)