Gamba Osaka 0-1 Nagoya Grampus
Another match in which Gamba promised much, but ended with nothing, and there was just a single goal in it, yet again. So close, yet so far, so many times this season for Gamba. Is it a player problem? Is it a managerial problem? Is it bad luck? Hopefully things can improve for 2024!
The game began in a promising fashion - as it often does for the men in blue and black - and Takashi Usami came close with a free kick early on, a relieved Langerak in the away goal seeing it zip past his post. In the 21st minute a short corner was taken and Usami crossed deep for the ball to be headed back across goal, but Genta Miura saw his shot saved, as Gamba continued to look as if they could get on top of the game.
Of course, as has often been seen this season, all this good work was undone by some slack marking at a corner, and as Haruya Fujii rose to get in front of Masaaki Higashiguchi and head home, the writing was on the wall for yet another Gamba Osaka defeat. 26 minutes, 1-0 down.
Ryotaro Meshino came close to bringing his team level just before half time, but saw his shot saved - after good work in sprinting through the defence - and it remained 0-1 at the break.
Just after the hour mark Shu Kurata then also came close to equalising for Gamba after a super one-touch move between Gamba players, with Issam Jebali feeding Kurata on the edge of the area, but the midfielder mis-hit his close range shot after advancing into the danger area, and the ball trickled inches past the far post. Gamba were racking up possession - as they often do - and out-shooting their opponents, too, but, as has often been the case this year, there was no finish, no goal, and nothing to celebrate, although, with 10 minutes to go substitute Dai Tsukamoto looked set to score when a desperate sliding tackle came in and that, and a fingertip from Langerak, helped the shot just wide and the game petered out, with Gamba looking dangerous much more often than their visitors, but never managing to finish anything off.
Team - Higashiguchi, Takao (Kurata 59'), Miura, Kwon, Fukuoka, Kurokawa, Dawhan, Yamamoto, Juan Alano (Tsukamoto 71'), Meshino (Jebali 58'), Usami