Gamba Osaka 1-3 Urawa Reds
In a match where Gamba Osaka outshot the visitors, racked up the possession, and dominated with numerous corners, they came out 3-1 losers against a team that played over a third of the game a man down. Fortune did not favour the men in blue and black today.
Shinya Nakano got a start at right back, with Ryu Takao on the bench, and the home team started out well, with possession and movement creating problems for their visitors and, in the 17th minute they were deservedly ahead, as Takashi Usami blasted a low right-foot free kick in at the far post, when the defence and the goalkeeper seemed to be expecting a lofted cross! 1-0. Game on!
The lead did not last long, though, as a shot on the turn from Jose Kante deflected wickedly off Shota Fukuoka to put Reds level with a huge slice of fortune going their way. The luck didn't end there and, just after the half hour mark, another deflected shot looked like it might find its way in, but Masaaki Higashiguchi managed to correct his stance and gather the ball. The Gamba 'keeper looked for the quick throw and was blocked by Kante, the referee being very lenient towards the striker - that was something else that wouldn't last!
Just before the break that Reds' luck continued as Yuki Yamamoto blasted a shot against the bar and the score at the break remained 1-1.
Kante, though, got his just desserts after the restart, as he lost his head, throwing Keisuke Kurokawa to the floor after grabbing his shirt with two hands and swinging the player around! Usami squared up to Kante - as is his right as team captain, in protecting his players - and got butted for his trouble. Kante saw a red card, after VAR confirmed the offence - as obvious as it was - and Gamba were a man up for the rest of the half.
Gamba then took control of the game but in a counter-attack, saw themselves a goal down as Toshiki Takahashi met a cross with his head, and sent an unstoppable effort into the top corner. Gamba went looking for the goal to bring them something from this game, but all it took was a mis-placed pass from Hideki Ishige in his own half and Bryan Linssen received the ball from his team-mate, advanced and shot across Higashiguchi to make it 3-1.
Gamba may have dominated possession, had more than twice as many goal attempts, saw a score in corners of 7-2, but it's goals that count, and they went down 3-1! They had the half chances in the final section of the game, including 12 minutes of added time - with substitute Shoji Toyama, in particular, seeing a couple of efforts go wide, but Gamba succumbed to the undeserved loss in the end.
Team - Higashiguchi, Nakano (Kwon, 71'), Sato, Fukuoka, Kurokawa, Dawhan (Kurata, 79'), Yamamoto, Juan Alano, Meshino (Fukuda, 71'), Jebali, Usami (Toyama, 87')
Scorer: Takashi USAMI 17'