Gamba Osaka 0-0 Kashiwa Reysol
With almost an unchanged team, the big news for Gamba Osaka fans was the return of Takashi Usami to the starting line-up as the only difference from the previous game, with Patric moving to the bench. Usami was also given the captain's armband by manager Hiroshi Matsuda, still looking for a first home win since he took over.
Barely two minutes had passed when Kashiwa Reysol's goalkeeper Masato Sasaki was forced into action to save from Leandro Pereira, while Gamba 'keeper Masaaki Higashiguchi had to tip a close-range Douglas header over the bar in the 11th minute, as both teams looked for goals, and 10 minutes later Higashiguchi made a double-save to keep his goal intact. Soon there was action at the other end, again, as Usami got on the end of a fine passing move to shoot from the edge of the area and see his effort denied down low.
Minutes later a superb one-touch passing move ended with Leandro Pereira curling a shot just wide of the goal from the edge of the area as the home team continued to look more likely to score and it seemed like they had minutes before half time as Ryotaro Meshino controlled a far post ball from a corner and out-foxed his defender to slide the ball home at the post. Unfortunately for Gamba the officials adjudged there to have been a handball in the build-up despite VAR not convincing anyone but the referee, and no appeals from any of the defenders who were close to the incident! 0-0 at the break but Gamba in the ascendency!
The teams switched ends, and so did the action, as Usami carried on where his team had left off at the break with a 20-yard free kick sliding inches past the post with the helpless 'keeper looking on. Soon after it was the other post that saw the ball fly past as Leandro Pereira got on the end of a Yuki Yamamoto cross to put the ball just wide.
Higashiguchi was then called back into action after being a spectator for long period of the game and spread his body to block a point-blank range Douglas header and, ironically, after all the chances that Gamba had it was a shot straight at Higashiguchi - with the goal at the mercy of the forward - and then that same forward, Yuki Muto saw his next attempt saved down low to finally confirmed that the game would end in a 0-0 draw.
Team - Higashiguchi, Takao, Miura, Shoji, Kurokawa, Y.Yamamoto (R.Yamamoto, 83), Saito, Alano (Onose, 88), Meshino (Fukuda, 83), Leandro Pereira (Suzuki, 88), Usami (Patric, 73)