Gamba Osaka 0-1 Urawa Reds - Levain Cup, quarter-final, 1st leg
Team - Higashiguchi, Takao, Sato, Fukuoka, Kurokawa (Fujiharu, 90+1), Dawhan (Kurata, 90+1), Yamamoto, Ishige (Usami, 65), Juan Alano, Jebali, Meshino (Yamami, 78)
This was a game that no one should believe Gamba Osaka lost. All the possession, all the chances, the game played at their pace, huge pressure in the closing stages to try to get the goal, but the proverbial parked bus of Urawa Reds, after they had taken the lead early in the 2nd half on a speculative shot from Alex Schmidt, did its job and Gamba go into the 2nd leg a goal down.
Gamba probably comfortably doubled the possession of the away team, out-shot them by far, racked up the corners as desperate tackles and clearances were seen, but are a goal down before they travel to Saitama.
The 1st half was quite uneventful as the teams felt each other out, Reds had a couple of long distance efforts that didn't trouble Masaaki Higashiguchi in goal, while it was more exciting at the other end, in particular when Dawhan beat the 'keeper with a header from Ryu Takao's cross, only to see the ball headed off the line, to keep the scoresheet clean at the break.
And so, into the 2nd half and Reds were immediately ahead as Schalk let fly from 20 yards out. Higashiguchi was so close to the save but the ball shot over his hand and into the roof of the net. Picking the ball out of his goal was probably the most action the Gamba 'keeper had in the rest of the 2nd half as the home team pushed and pressed, passed and ran, created space and chances, but to no avail.
Juan Alano cut in from the left and slipped the ball in front of Dawhan, whose low shot skimmed inches past the post as the grateful goalkeeper looked on in relief. Then came a slick passing move - ending with a sublime Jebali flick - that tore the Reds defence open but Dawhan's shot around the 'keeper, also went inches around the far post as the away goal continued to lead a charmed life. The chances kept coming, the desperate - but effective defence continued - Juan Alano seeing his shot ricochet off a defender for a corner, and finally time ran out and the advantage is with Reds for the 2nd leg.