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Saturday, 3 May 2008

Gamba Edge Past Improving Grampus

Gamba Osaka leave Toyota Stadium with all three points in an entertaining game i front of 34,000 fans. Two goals from the ever dangerous Bare, ether side of an Ogawa special, saw the Osaka team earn a deserved 2-1 win.

Although Gamba got off to the slightly better start, it was Grampus that first forced a 'keeper to make a serious save. Matsuyo being forced to palm away a good effort by Tamada, with Osaka fortunate to see the loose ball cleared by a defender before Johnsen could pounce. However, both teams continued to probe with some quick passing while both teams were quick to try and put pressure on their opponents. This was were Gamba's extra experience and class showed, finding their team mates with one-touch passes under pressure more consistently than the home team. Having said that, they needed to be because Nagoya still managed to create several opportunities and were far from outclassed.

It took a typical bullish run by Bare to open the scoring, when he latched onto a through ball through the middle and took advantage to a moment's hesitation by Bajalica and a rare slip by Yoshida to see a deflected shot wrong-foot Narazaki after 24 minutes. The young defender seemed overly harsh on himself, looking very dejected after the goal, but soon bounced back to his normal self. Thereafter, Bare found it much harder to create any space when paired one-on-one with Yoshida. A harsh lesson, but one that can only serve the future national team defender well. While Nagoya probed and prodded to create the equalizer, they lacked the finesse to prize open the Osaka defense. This took a 20-yard screamer from Ogawa eleven minutes later, the ever improving midfielder collecting a pass from Nakamura and unleashing a rising shot that left Matsuyo flailing at thin air. Both teams continued to play neat, attractive football but the only other real chance came towards the end of the opening half when Nakamura free kick was well saved by the Osaka goalie.

Although Gamba had looked the have a slight edge in the first half, the second half was a much more even contest, with Grampus competing on an equal footing in nearly all areas of the pitch. Unfortunately, Bare was again to prove that on his good days, he is almost impossible to tame. But first, speedster Keita Sugimoto came on for the visibly hobbling Tamada early in the half and almost immediately created a chance when a cross-shot proved just a bit to hot for Johnsen to deflect into the bottom corner. The big Norwegian's touch slipping just the wrong side of the post. A couple o minutes later saw another golden opportunity go begging, when Sugimoto burst through from the right but saw his fierce shot clip the cross-bar. Both teams traded half-chances, with a Yasuda shot comfortably saved by Narazaki and a Johnsen effort in front to goal fortuitously ricocheting off an unsighted defender. Unfortunately for the home team, Bare was to clinch the three points for the visitors. The Brazilian marksman beating Narazaki at the near post, with a sharp turn and shot from a narrow angle after the 'keeper had steered him a away from goal after a through ball from Endo.

Although the loss, the third in a row, is worrying, the style of the Magoya performance and the fact that they are still only one point off the pace, show the improvement from last year. Provided the team does not dwell on the results and considers it position, and the fact they are now able to compete with the best teams in the league over a full 90 minutes, they should soon be back to winning ways. For Gamba this was a well-earned three points from a skillful and hard-working performance, that saw new recruit Lucas start to look an asset to the team. Rather than trying to compete with Bare and Bando for attention at the front, he dropped back into a more creative position and was instrumental in some of the team's best moves.

Seigo Narazaki
Shohei Abe, Milos Bajalica, Maya Yoshida, Akira Takeuchi
Magnum (Takashi Yoneyama 63), Naoshi Nakamura, Keiji Yoshimura (Toshiya Fujita 77),
Frode Johnsen, Keiji Tamada (Keita Sugimoto 51)

Gamba Osaka:
Naoki Matsuyo
Akira Kaji, Sota Nakazawa, Satoshi Yamaguchi, Michihiro Yasuda (Shu Kurata 85)
Hideo Hashimoto, Yasuhito Endo, Takahiro Futagawa (Hiroki Mizumoto 77)
Lucas, Ryuji Bando (Masato Yamazaki 55), Bare

Other J1 Results for Round 10
Kyoto Sanga 1-0 Consodole Sapporo
Omiya Ardija 0-3 FC Tokyo
Tokyo Verdy 3-2 Yokohama Marinos
Shimizu S-Pulse 1-1 Jubilo Iwaata
Vissel Kobe 1-1 Urawa Reds
Oita Trinita 3-1 Albirex Niigata
JEF United Chiba 0-1 Kashiwa Reysol
Kawasaki Frontale 3-2 Kashima Antlers

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