Gamba Osaka 1-1 Albirex Niigata

Gamba Osaka threw themselves straight into this home game, looking for the early goal and the first golden chance came in the 3rd minute as Keisuke Kurokawa sprinted down the left wing, then cut inside, beat a defender and slipped the ball aside to Juan Alano, who saw his shot saved low by the 'keeper. The game continued very much at a pace dictated by the home team and the next big chance came minutes before the half hour mark, when Ryotaro Meshino took a pass in his own half and headed goal-ward. He found Issam Jebali inside the area and the Tunisian striker got the ball inside to Juan Alano in space, but the Brazilian's shot was deflected over by some desperate defending.

The away team finally got a shot off as the clock hit 35 minutes, but the 20-yard shot from Yota Komi was watched carefully by Masaaki Higashiguchi and as he dived to his left, he allowed the ball to hit the outside of the post for a goal kick, and teams remained deadlocked at the break.

The 2nd half remained very much a Gamba game and, in the 52nd minuted Dawhan intercepted a ball in the centre circle and commenced yet another foray forward, finding Juan Alano, who, in turn fed Meshino who beat his defender but saw his shot deflected into the side-netting for a corner. Yota Sato rose to meet the resulting corner with a bullet header that flew just wide of the post.

As the hour mark ticked over, a fine move from the back saw Shu Kurata's left wing cross cleared into the path of Juan Alano, and his shot on the bounce elicited an excellent save from Ryosuke Kojima in the Albirex goal, to keep his team level. But minutes later the breakthrough finally came as Kurokawa and Meshino exchanged passes on the left looking for space before Kurokawa's cross was cleared - but only back out to Meshino, who controlled, then took a run along the edge of the box to find the space for a shot off his right foot that sneaked in at the post - 1-0 at last.

Minutes later Juan Alano took the ball deep in his own half and brilliantly beat a player, then another as he drove through the middle towards goal. Passes were exchanged with Jebali but the final shot from just outside the area flew just over the goal. And, again, minutes later it was Juan Alano once more in on the action, as his rugged play eventually set up Meshino for the chance, but the shot flew just wide of the corner of the goal and the score remained at 1-0.

Gamba were to regret these missed chances as, in the 83rd minute Albirex were suddenly level. Mito latching onto a pass on the edge of the area and his fortunate first touch finding its way past the defender for him to have the space to slot the ball home to level the scores.

Gamba went looking for that second goal that would bring them all three points, after the setback, and Jebali was denied by the 'keeper's foot, and then Hideki Ishige blasted against a post in the final seconds, but the home team had to settle for a point when they really could have, should have had more.

Team - Higashiguchi, Takao (Nakano, 77'), Sato, Fukuoka, Kurokawa, Dawhan (Ishige, 77'), Yamamoto, Juan Alano (Fukuda, 89'), Meshino (Usami, 77'), Jebali, Kurata (Lavi, 70')

Scorer: Ryotaro MESHINO 63'

Attendance: 19,422