Gamba has well over half of the possession, conceded no corners, racked up 11 goal attempts but came out wanting after the final play killed off everything that might have been. After a season already almost destroyed by a month off due to Covid-19 in the squad and numerous long-term injuries, some may say it could be a blessing in disguise to be able to concentrate on league pay but who does not want to do well in the ACL?
And so, to the last game of the 2021 campaign and, once again, the team were missing players to injury - Hiroki Fijiharu, Ryu Takao and Yuji Ono (after a shirt-lived comeback earlier in the competition) were a big loss to the squad and, while Yuya Fukuda finally returned to action in this game, he was gone again by half time, back on to the treatment table.
The game started badly, with Kim Young-gwon shoving a forward who was advancing on Masaaki Higashiguchi, but his action was deemed too violent and a PK was given and duly dispatched. 1-0 down in the 6th minute.
Still, with two goals now needed Gamba were going for it, and Patric was inches wide with a left foot shot in the 11th minute, then made space for Yosuke Ideguchi to have a chance but his shot was just wide of the other post. It was still 1-0 to the Korean side at the break, but a minute into the 2nd half it was Shinya Yajima's turn to have a shot, but his attempt was safely covered by the goalkeeper. Just three minutes later and it seemed to be Patric's turn to be the hero again, as Takashi Usami found space on the left, crossed low and Patric - just yards out from goal - only had to connect to score. He didn't, the embarrassed striker ending up in the net himself, but the ball passing staright cross the goal.
Still only six minutes into the 2nd half and Gamba missed another golden chance to score, and it was Patric again who headed wide of the post with the goalkeeper unable to get anywhere near the ball. Just a foot the other way and Gamba would have been level, but it was beginning to seem like they were destined not to score tonight. And then just two minutes after this second scorned chance of the half he blasted home a bouncing ball from an acute angle to bury his hoodoo for the night, scoring by far the most difficult chance of the game! 1-1!
Just as Gamba seemed be in the ascendancy and with the game at their mercy, a communication mix-up at the back reminded us how fragile this game is, and Higashiguchi advanced out and tried to clear the ball long only for it to hit Gen Shoji in the face and bounce favourably to create a chance for the opposition. As the 'keeper scrambled back into position, the chance was spurned anyway and Gamba breathed a collective sigh of relief.
With 11 minutes to go the substitutes combined to create a chance, with Wellington Silva finding Leandro Pereira who blasted a shot against the post with the 'keeper helpless! It was looking like it was not Gamba's night but they were not giving up.
Team - Higashiguchi, Miura, Shoji, Kim, Onose, Fukuda (Kurokawa, 31), Ideguchi (Kurata, 46), Okuno, Yajima, Usami, Patric