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Monday, 15 March 2010

Cerezo Tame Gamba

Peter gives us his take on the Osaka Derby at Nagai Stadium yesterday. (The headline is mine, not Peter's)

Mark and I were among the more than 37,000 spectators who turned up to watch the first draw in the J-League history of the Osaka derby; the stats for which now read played 25, Gamba 16, Cerezo 8, drawn 1.

Gamba showed their usual class, but showed the lack of energy they have displayed since half-time in the Grampus match. Their classy football was not surprising. What was surprising was that an unchanged Cerezo team from the team that started last week with seven new members matched them for class, and showed an unbelievable (literally !) improvement in the team understanding from the Ardija match.

With the referee Tojo being very kind to a Lucas frequently diving like a dying swan, but dishing out a yellow to Adriano when he was genuinely felled by a hard, but fair, tackle in the box, Cerezo showed a strong spirit to overcome adversity. This was particularly true after no.2 goalie Matsui gave Gamba the gift of a goal in the 64th minute. Matsui, who looked shaky on set pieces throughout, finally in open play completely messed up a straightforward save from a 26-metre drive by Myojin and somehow allowed the ball to go straight through his body and into the net. Matsui did look a bit better than last week: apart from set pieces and the critical error, he looked quite a neat goalie with intelligent distribution, and he made a couple of good saves!

As this was the third time that Matsui had made a howler and given away a goal in two games, I thought Cerezo might be disheartened, but none of it. They came back hard and looked the better team in the last 25 minutes. They equalised in the 70th minute from a terrific solo goal from Adriano, who made a long run down the left channel and then cracked the ball in from a narrow angle off the far post.

For Gamba, Shimohira looked classy; for Cerezo Martinez was masterful and defenders Moniwa and captain Haneda both played solid games, with Uemoto much improved on last week and looking strong in the air.

If Cerezo can keep up this spirit and this class of football, with no.1 goalie Kim returning next week, they could easily finish in mid-table.

It's completely incredible but, if Matsui had not given Gamba a goal, Cerezo would have won this match. Anyway, the Cerezo fans appreciated the performance, as, just for once, Cerezo gave a good account of themselves in front of a big crowd. Culpi may know what he is doing with his 3-5-2 formation. It was beautiful to watch two teams who both wanted to play good football.

Haneda, Moniwa, Uemoto; (who frequently switched positions)
Amaral, Kagawa, Martinez, Omata, Takahashi;
Inui (Ienaga 87), Adriano (Bando 87)

Gamba: (4-4-2)
Kaji, Nakazawa, Takagi, Shimohira;
Hashimoto, Myojin, Endo, Futagawa (Pedro Junior 67);
Lucas, Cho (Hirai 81)

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