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Saturday, 27 December 2008

Grampus Knocked Out by Classy Gamba

Dragan "Pixie" Stojkovic's debut season as a manager cam to an end with Gamba's 2-1 win in the Emperor's Cup 1/4-final at Kobe on Christmas Day. In the end, Gamba's sharpness after their three games in Club World Cup proved a bigger advantage than the well rested, after a couple of week of inactivity, Grampus team.

As with the two league games against Osaka, Nagoya kept the score line close. However, unlike the two league game which were close because the teams were evenly matched, this game saw Gamba have much the better of the game for most of the 90 minutes. Nagoya did not press and close down as effectively as they have throughout much of this season. The extra space an time allowed Gamba to create plenty of chances, especially in the first half. Nagoya were somewhat fortunate to go in at half time only trailing by two goals, scored by Lucas and Nakazawa.

The second half was a bit more even, but Gamba still looked the more likely to score. However, the introduction of Keita Sugimoto at half time changed the balance of the game. His speed unsettled the Gamba defense and he latched onto a long ball through the middle and calmly stoked the ball past Fujigaya to reduce the deficit to one goal. This sparked a revival in nagoya fortunes and Johnsen and Magnun were both unlucky to see good efforts in goal thwarted by excellent saves. Grampus could easily have taken the game into extra time had it not been for Fujigaya fine performance, but doing so would have been a bit of an injustice. A score of 4-2 or 5-3 would have been a more accurate reflection of the chances.

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