In the off-season the club had allowed Ryo Hatsuse to leave for Vissel Kobe, as well as sending off young forward Kazunaru Ichimi to earn experience on loan at Kyoto Sanga. Thus Oh Jae-suk started at right back, with Hiroki Fujiharu on the left. With three centre backs leaving after the 2018 season, also, Gamba brought in a stalwart of Guangzhou Evergrande's back line in Kim Young-gwon. He started in the centre of defence alongside captain Genta Miura, and in front of goalkeeper Masaaki Higashiguchi.
With Yasuyuki Konno not 100% fit the double midfield defensive selection saw veteran Yasuhito Endo - starting in J.League's opening day for the 20th season running - alongside the promising Takahiro Ko. On the flanks we saw Kosuke Onose on the right and Shu Kurata on the left, with Ademilson and Hwang Ui-jo at the top of the formation.
The game began well for Gamba with the instant high pressuring on the away team's passing game causing an error and Hwang cut out a back-pass to the 'keeper and shot against the post. Onose followed up and slotted home the rebound to give the lead to Gamba withing 45 seconds of their season starting.
It wasn't long, though, before F・Marinos were level, with Teruhito Nakagawa poking home from a yard out after a fortunate deflection fell his way. The Gamba defence were appealing en masse for an offside and replays did indeed confirm that the scorer was offside, not once, but twice in the play - including the final shot - that gave them the equaliser.
The goal obviously re-inflated Yokohama's confidence that had been knocked by the opening goal and the game was changed, yet still Gamba continued as they had started and pressured their opposition as they tried to play a possession game that Gamba themselves have been so good at in past seasons. In the 16th minute Hwang broke on to pass down the right wing and cut inside to force a save, and then a desperate clearance for a corner as Gamba looked the more likely to score again in the early stages. But the next goal came from F・Marinos after a half clearance fell at the feet of Koji Miyoshi to strike a sumptuous half volley that skimmed Miura's head and the fingers of Higashiguchi before finding the top corner to give the away team the lead.
Edigar Junio then made it 3-1 to the away team as an intricate tricky passing movement found its way through the Gamba defence to give the Brazilian the space to deftly flick over the onrushing Higashiguchi.
The 2nd half saw Gamba trying to get back into the match while F・Marinos did what they couldn't do often enough last season, hold back a little and defend properly. The parked bus of white shirts was almost beaten by Miura's flicked header just after the hour mark - but the ball fell right into the arms of Hiroki Iikura in the away goal - but the white horde finally succumbed to the Gamba pressure when Thiago Martins and Iikura failed to communicate and the defender headed the ball out of his 'keeper's hands and into the path of Fujiharu, who stroked the ball home to bring the score back to 3-2 with minutes left. Despite the short time left on the clock, Fujiharu and Ademilson combined on the left to allow the full back space in the area and his cross was desperately cleared by a defender as substitute Kazuma Watanabe loomed large behind him. A couple of corners then came to nought as Gamba looked for a point in the dying seconds but it was not to be.
Team - Higashiguchi, Oh, Miura, Kim, Endo (Yajima, 85), Ko (Tanaka, 60), Onose (Watanabe, 71), Kurata, Ademilson, Hwang
Kosuke ONOSE 1'
Hiroki FUJIHARU 88'