Kashima Antlers 0-0 Gamba Osaka
Gamba Osaka came into this match needing to avoid a loss to save their J1 skins for another season, while it might still depend on results around them to ensure safety. Manager Hiroshi Matsuda made a single change from the team that had beaten Jubilo Iwata the weekend before, with Ryotaro Meshino in to start over Kosuke Onose.
Gamba looked solid at the back and were obviously concentrating on defence, as opposed to attack in this match, hoping that a point would be enough to see them safe. To that end numerous waves of attacks from the home team were nullified and snuffed out before they got dangerous, and Gamba rarely troubled to opposing goalkeeper as the game became a midfield game of chess and neither team looked likely to break the deadlock up to the break, 0-0 was the half time score.
Danger threatened at the start of the 2nd half, however, as Yuma Suzuki latched onto a through pass, but Gamba 'keeper Masaaki Higashiguchi did what was necessary to force the striker wide and out of play. Higashiguchi continued to collect long shots comfortably as the Gamba defence continued to do its job and Antlers could not break down a stubborn defence, while Takashi Usami had a half chance to win it for Gamba in the 90th minute but curled a shot just wide of the post.
And so, a 0-0 draw, and the point was enough to see Gamba survive for a rebuild as they head into 2023, hopefully putting Corona virus troubles and injuries behind them for a fresh start!
Team - Higashiguchi, Takao, Miura, Shoji, Kurokawa, Juan Alano (Fukuda, 63), Dawhan (Saito, 63), Y.Yamamoto, Meshino (Wellington Silva, 71), Usami, Patric