Kashiwa Reysol 2-2 Gamba Osaka
Gamba Osaka began their 2023 season with a well-deserved away draw at Kashiwa Reysol, but it could have - even should have - been a three-point haul, after they have turned the game around just after half-time, only to concede a penalty kick (and two points) deep into injury time.
New manager Daniel Poyatos began his first game in charge by giving Kosei Tani the start over Masaaki Higashiguchi in goal, and a Gamba debut to Riku Handa at right back. Also starting for the first time for Gamba was Naohiro Sugiyama, while substitute appearances from Neta Lavi and Yusei Egawa completed the introduction of the new faces on opening weekend.
In a game that was concentrated in midfield Tani was called upon early in the game to snuff out a through ball to Mao Hosoya but Gamba's defence was under little pressure as the game progressed and Dawhan forced a save from the home 'keeper, as he sent in a header from a corner in the 35th minute, but then, suddenly, unexpectedly, Reysol were ahead just before half time, as Eiichi Katayama struck a sweet half volley from the edge of the area, as he latched on to a half-cleared ball, and it was 1-0 to the hosts at the break.
Gamba were level soon after the break, though, as Takashi Usami took a short pass from Dawhan and somehow wriggled through the close attention of four defenders to get off a shot that was blocked, but edged its way over the line, 1-1! Five minutes later Gamba were ahead, after a swift move down the left appeared to be curtailed, the ball found the feet of Dawhan about 25 yards out and his shot looked to be covered by the 'keeper at his post but it somehow sneaked in and the away team were 2-1 ahead!
It was the 75th minute before the Gamba goalmouth saw any further danger, but Keita Nakamura's shot - after great close control - hit the top of the crossbar on the way over. Into added time, Tani palmed away a dangerous deep cross at the far post to seemingly preserve Gamba's victory. And then it all went awry! Hosoya collapsed in a tussle with Kwon Kyung-won, with the referee deciding on a penalty kick, which Hosoya dispatched with gratitude for the fortunate home team to salvage a point at the death.
Team - Tani, Handa, Miura, Kwon, Kurokawa, Dawhan (R.Yamamoto, 90'), Y.Yamamoto (Lavi, 64'), Usami, Sugiyama (Egawa, 90'), Suzuki (Kurata, 79'), Meshino (Yamami, 64')
Takashi USAMI 49'