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Friday, 12 March 2010

Gamba Osaka 1-1 Hannan Xianye

The KobeSamurai chips in with a review of Gamba's ACL game on Wednesday, which saw the team stymied by Milos and co.

Gamba began this game perhaps expecting an easy night, giving Kimura his ACL debut in goal, with Fujigaya on the bench. Shimohira was also preferred to Michi Yasuda at left back, with Myojin out, feeling the effects of his injury in the opening ACL game late last month. Yamaguchi was also still on the injured list, but was expected back by the end of the month at the latest.

Up front, Pedro Junior made his comeback, and Ze Carlos - down 8 kg in the last six weeks, but still needing to lose more weight - was on the bench. Lucas was captain in the absence of Myojin, and was registered as a forward, so it seemed like an attacking 4-4-3 was the way it would be played.

The backs lined up from right to left: Kaji, Nakazawa, Takagi, Shimohira. The midfield was policed by Endo, Hashimoto and Futagawa, and the three up front were Cho - nursing a broken bone in his hand, but on the mend - Pedro Junior - back from a long lay-off, and Lucas.

The game began well with a right wing Kaji cross in the 1st minute being met on the full volley by Cho, with an acrobatic shot from 12 yards out which the keeper managed to push away, but the 7500 crowd were soon seeing that Gamba had not learned their lesson from the Nagoya game, when Endo tried to play his way out of danger and lost the ball in his own area to give away the winning goal. This time it was Nakazawa who shielded the ball on the side of the area but, instead of clearing safely he was dispossessed. The ball fell kindly, though, for Kaji, who, AGAIN, tried to play his way out of trouble. he also lost the ball and the cross came in and the shot his Kimura point blank for a lucky let-off? But, no ... the ball fell to Chan Lu, who dispatched it, via a deflection for a shock opening goal for the away team. Yoor writer, on double duty as stadium announcer, was not enthused when announcing the goal and it was all I could do to stop myself from screaming over the microphone at Nakazawa and Endo to "PLAY IT SAFE"!!

This goal, of course, gave Hannan some confidence and they looked considerably more upbeat for the next few minutes but it was soon noticeable that, even at this early stage of the game, they were already slowing it down, and wasting time!

In the 16th minute, Endo fed Pedro Junior, and he twisted and turned three defenders before finding open space and then, after the hard work, blasted over from six yards out with the goalkeeper out of position! It was noticeable, then, for most of the rest of the half that Gamba's passes were going uncharacteristically astray - passes were going out of play, or straight to a Chinese foot. It was only a penalty kick, earned by Lucas and duly converted by the Brazilian that gave Gamba parity by half time.

There were no changes for either team at half time and the game continued with Gamba holding most of the possession but lacking a killer instinct ... until the best moment of the game in the 53rd minute, as a stream of passes foudn Cho 20 yards out and he glanced at the keeper's positioning and slipped a sublime lob over the defence and keeper, only to see it bounce off the bar. Lucas followed up and his shot was desperately deflected for a corner. The Chinese wall of nine defenders was still holding out the Osaka hordes.

Over the next 20 minutes most of the Gamba players got in on the attacking action - from Kaji, Shimohira and Nakazawa from the back, to the midfield trio - the shots were raining in, but causing little problem for the Hannan goalkeeper.

In the 69th, coach Nishino rolled the dice and brought on Michi Yasuda for Shimohira, and Ze Carlos for the out of touch Pedro Junior. Within a minute or so of his entry, Yasuda had two shots on goal - one being deflected, and one going way over the bar, but the signs were good for a big finish ...

Sadyly, it was not to be and, while Gamba were rarely in danger after that early goal, they could not break down the stalwart defence and came out of this game with a home draw. Not the best result, but, more importantly, were lessons learned?

Gamba Osaka:
GK - Kimura
DF: Kaji, Nakazawa, Takagi, Shimohira (Yasuda, 69)
MF: Endo, Hashimoto (Sasaki, 84), Futagawa
FW: Lucas (captain), Pedro Junior (Ze Carlos, 69), Cho

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