There was an error in this gadget

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Gamba Hold Blue Wings as ACL Gets Under Way

Alan at gives us his take on last night's game in Korea, as Gamba got off to an unconvincing start. (They were lucky not to concede a goal, but equally should have scored themselves. HIrai, in particular, guilty of a couple of bad misses early in the first half, before disappearing from view. The draw was a reasonable result in the end.)

Gamba Osaka opened their 2010 season with this AFC Champions League group match in Korea against Suwon Blue Wings, before jetting straight to Tokyo to prepare for the Super Cup match against Kashima Antlers on Saturday.

With Yamaguchi injured, Takagi was drafted in to centre back and Michihiro Yasuda took over the left back role that Talagi had been controlling in the latter stages of last season . Despite the retaining of Cho - and the reported improving of relations between him and Gamba coach Nishino - and the signing of two other strikers in Brazilians Dodo and Ze Carlos, it was Hirai who got the start up front alongside Lucas and, if reports from in the Gamba camp were anything to go by, this would be Nishino's preferred top two for the coming weeks.

Fujigaya - with the retirement of Matsuyo - now firmly camped in the goalkeeping position, saw Kaji, Nakazawa, Takagi and Yasuda line up in front of him. The expected midfield four of Myojin and Endo as the defensive-looking pair, and Hashimoto and HashimotoFutagawa and Endo made up the starting members.

Kaji was soon in the wars as he was hacked down from behind and needed treatment in the 2nd minute and, a minute later, after his return to the field of play, he picked up an early caution as he exacted a little revenge on the Korean goal line.

Kang Min Soo picked up a yellow in the 13th minute for a dangerous two-footed tackle on Myojin. The free kick went long and Hirai showed his potential with a smart move and a volley that beat the keeper but went across the goal. But Gamba's tails were up and two minutes later, Futagawa found Hirai with a through ball, but the young forward's shot was weak and straight at the keeper. But the signs were promising for the Japanese team.

The game progressed with midfield play from both teams and little penetration from either team and Gamba's plans were disrupted somewhat when Nakazawa had to leave the field just before half-time, to be replaced by rookie Suganuma. It was looking as if Gamba might be without both first choice centre backs for the J.League season opener Super Cup at this point!

Kaji and Yasuda saw more of the ball in an attacking capacity over the last minutes of the half but the session ended with no score. Half time 0-0.

In the 3rd minute of the 2nd half, Myojin and Yasuda combined well on the left to put Hashimoto through but the midfielder scuffed his shot whole with the goal to aim at. Seconds later Lucas was caught offside when seemingly through and, once again, things looked promising for Gamba, with gaps starting to appear in the home defence. In the 54th minute Yasuda got down the left again and his cross was met by Hashimoto who saw his shot hit the post and bounce across the goal, but it was beginning to look like Gamba's game as they put more and more passes together and started to find openings. But it was Suwon who came close after Suganuma gave away a free kick 35 yards out and the shot came in low and hard to force Fujigaya into and awkward save and a corner ensued.

Then there were chances at both ends within seconds of each other as Fujigaya made a smart save with his right foot anf the ball was soon up the other end for Hirai to be stopped with a last gasp interception as he pulled the trigger. Seconds later Futagawa found Hashimoto running through with a superb looping pass and Hashimoto's lob over the onrushing keeper was inches wide of the post - the game was opening up and it seemed only a matter of time before Gamba opened the scoring, and Hirai was given the opportunity again in the 68th minute as another superb through ball from Futagawa put him through but his shot was wayward and over.

In the 71st minute expectations were raised as Hashimoto was taken down just outside the penalty area and Endo got his first chance to show what he could do from 25 yards out ... but the way fans were disappointed as his shot flew a yard over the goal. In the 78th minute Nishino played his hand, replacing Hashimoto and Hirai with Cho and Usami, and adding a little more bite to the attack. Cho was nursing a broken bone in his hand but was keen to show the Korean fans what they were missing, and Usami was soon in action as he played a smart wall pass with Lucas, and looked to be through, only to be brought down cynically on the 18 yard line. Endo's free kick cleared the wall but was easily scooped up by the keeper to keep the away team frustrated.

Myojin was now in obvious pain, after a knee in the side on a reckless challenge, but all three subs had been used and Gamba had to be careful not be left exposed in the middle, but they were still going for it as a Kaji cross was headed back across the goal by Cho and Usami's shot was just over. Soon after, though Gamba were down to ten men as Myojin had to leave the field and the home team piled on the pressure in the dying minutes. But the game remained scoreless and Gamba Osaka would probably be satisfied with an away point against their biggest rivals in the group.

Nishino noted that, for an opening game it was not too bad and Gamba seemed to control good portions of the game and he was reasonably satisfied with the performance.

Gamba Osaka:
GK - Fujigaya
DF - Kaji, Nakazawa (Suganuma), Takagi, M. Yasuda
MF - Myojin, Endo, Hashimoto (Cho), Futagawa
FW - Hirai (Usami), Lucas

In other ACL news:
Daily Gomiuri: Frontale's Nakamura KO'd

No comments: