Gamba Osaka 0-2 Yokohama F.Marinos

A game that was over-influenced by some mystifying officiating resulted in an undeserved loss for Gamba Osaka, in a game where the players showed promise, showed what they could do, created chances but were frustrated by the officiating team time and again.

Manager Dani Poyatos made changes to try to change the luck of his team, bring in Yota Sato at the back, alongside Shota Fukuoka, while Masaaki Higashiguchi kept his place in goal.

Gamba were in full control of the game early on, Issam Jebali saw a goal disallowed in the 6th minute after a Neta Lavi pass split the defence completely, after the Tunisian forward rounded the 'keeper and slotted the ball home but replays showed he was inches offside. Then Hideki Ishige broke free in the 11th minute. He was cynically brought down from behind by Ken Matsubara when through on goal - a clear goal-scoring opportunity with no defenders between the attacker and the goal. The challenge resulted in a yellow card when many other similar incidents see a red card shown. This was the first of numerous debatable incident in this game, and they all seemed to go against the home team.

Gamba continued to dominate possession (ending with close to 60% of the game) but, as is the 2023 tradition, conceded a goal against the run of play to go down 1-0 in the 37th minute, Takuma Nishimura heading home from a corner.

In the final seconds before the half-time whistle Juan Alano broke free from a cleared corner and was pulled back by Eduardo, out of position after coming up for the corner. A seemingly clear yellow card offence was ignored by the referee and he then blew for the break. The inconsistency of J.League officials was once again highlighted. Having two defenders on yellow cards for the 2nd half would have had a clear bearing on the way that F.Marinos' defence played in the second period. One astounding and inconsistent decision among many by today's referee - Mr. Hiroyuki Kimura.

90 seconds into the 2nd half Shinnosuke Hatanaka launched at atrocious two-footed flying tackle - both feet were off the ground as he lunged in - that took out Juan Alano in what could have been a season- (or career-) ending challenge if Alano's foot had been planted on the ground. Incredibly, the referee did not even give a free kick, and the hapless assistant referee - 15 yards away in clear view did nothing to "assist". Only after play continued and the ball was out of play did VAR come into play and the replays were horrifying - thankfully Alano had not got his foot on the ground because his ankle would have likely been broken. Incredibly, though, after clear views and deliberation, four minutes after the challenge, of his it was only a yellow card issued to the defender, who was visibly embarrassingly smiling in relief as he saw the colour brandished by the referee! Even the offender himself could not believe he had not received a red card!

Into the 55th minute and the officials struck again - this time refusing to give a penalty kick for an Eduardo "handball", even though it as almost exactly the same action as the penalty kick given against Gamba last weekend, that changed the game. If Eduardo's hand - however accidental it had been - had not intercepted the ball, Ishige was on hand to slot the pass home. This would also have resulted in a second yellow card for Eduardo, perhaps, but that was moot, because the first one had not been given anyway. The game was turning into the perfect example of how officials can, but should not influence a game, and will surely be used by J.League as teaching material for years to come.

In the 59th minute Matsubara finally saw that well-deserved red card - for his second yellow card - even though both offences were arguably red cards, and F.Marinos finally lost a man. Matsubara's protestations of innocence were laughable after he swung his hand into the face of Shu Kurata - a red card in itself. He can think himself fortunate he received only two yellows, and not two reds!

A man up, Gamba turned the screw even more and had numerous chances to score but, yet again, they failed to do so. Dawhan headed straight into the 'keeper's hands in the 61st minute, and things just continued to not go the home team's way for the rest of the match.

To add insult to injury, a foul committed by Usami in midfield, taking down Anderson Lopez (and earning himself a yellow card in the process) was then taken about 15 meters forward from where the foul actually took place... and this free kick resulted in the goal that killed off the game. Yet another example of how much this referee, and his team, influenced the game today. This was a very basic error by Mr. Kimura among many much bigger ones today, but caused a goal.

Manager Dani Poyatos commented on the standard of refereeing in this game, “I would like to convey this with a lot of respect, but there is one thing I would like to ask the referees. Shota Fukuoka's penalty given away n the previous match against Urawa and our (not given) penalty against F.Marinos today, I don't understand the criteria for hitting and handing. Why did we get a penalty against us in Urawa, and why did we not get a penalty today? I want the criteria to be firmly established and to know of why it didn't result in a PK even though it was exactly the same type of handball. I really couldn't understand that point. So I will work closely with the J.League and the referees. I really want to ask to firmly set the standards of the refereeing. I would like to ask the J League and at the same time the referees to improve."

Team - Higashiguchi, Handa, Sato, Fukuoka, Kurokawa, Lavi (Y.Yamamoto, 82'), Dawhan, Kurata (Usami, 74'), Ishige (Fukuda, 74'), Jebali, Juan Alano (Suzuki, 82')

Attendance: 19,823