Friday, 2 April 2010

Gamba 3-0!

Alan, the Stadium DJ, chips in with his view of Gamba's easy win on Wednesday.
Gamba looked better than the "only" three goal margin suggests ... but still some work to do to get that top spot in the group.

The sakura was in evidence outside the ground and, thankfully it wasn't as cold as earlier in the week as Gamba Osaka took on Singapore Armed Forces in the home leg of their Qualifying Group battle, having won the away leg in a not-so-convincing 4-2 victory. The fans were hoping for more goal in this fixture, with a view to gaining some confidence to take into the J.League.

The game began with Gamba passing the ball around a-la-Gamba-style, but with little success in front of goal. Yasuda popped a couple of decent crosses in, and Futagawa and Sasaki took shots from distance but caused little excitement until Yasuda intercepted a pass on the halfway line, advanced, swapped passes with Futagawa and found an opening, but his final shot was weak.

In the 19th it was Yasuda again, with a deep cross that Sasaki controlled and hit, the ball ricocheting away off a defender.

Hashimoto came close before Cho had two chances within 30 seconds, the first hitting the post and the second, after Kaji put the ball back in saw a splendid half volley well saved by the busy keeper.

So it was down to the ever-energetic Yasuda to finally open the scoring with a super left foot strike from the left side of the area. 1-0! More to come! Perhaps Š while Gamba had never looked in trouble they were having difficulty making that final flourish count. Hirai was working hard, but a couple of weak left foot finishes had not helped. Yasuda tried his luck again in the 37th, as he cut inside on his right foot and let fly from 25 yards out, but the ball flew well wide.

The 2nd half began with a flurry of corners and the away keeper denying Cho yet again - until Sasaki fed Hirai on the break and slipped the ball to the right and the onrushing Hirai blasted it into the net with a right foot first-timer! 2-0!

Gamba continued to create space, run the game completely, rack up the shots, the corners and the possession, but the keeper foiled Cho, Futagawa, Hashimoto and Hirai once again, while at the other end Kimura had not had a shot to save.

With 18 minutes to go Cho broke free from the half, fed Futagawa who placed it perfectly for Hirai to scoop over the bar from 18 yards out. The Sasaki made a run through the middle and, when all expected a pass to the wide open Futagawa on his right, he feinted brilliantly to the left and the goal was at his mercy. he did everything right in placing it to the keeper's right post, but that's exactly where it went - hitting the right post!

At this point, with around a quarter of an hour left on the clock Gamba coach Nishino decided to freshen things up, bring on Ze Carlos and Shohei Otsuka for Cho and Hirai. Otsuka and Ze too the two top spots, with both getting in on the action pretty quickly... Ze Carlos was rewarded and made the score a little more respectable with a deflected goal in lost time, and earned a yellow card which could come back to haunt him if he is needed at a later stage, for his wild celebrations of his goal.

To be honest, we could have hoped for more goals. On the other hand, the keeper was brilliant at times, and at others his goal led charmed life! The official stats will show about 40 shots on goal for Gamba, while the visitors managed one on target! This month, we'll take a win however we can get it!

The refereeing, from the Uzbek officials, was spot-on, controversy free, not that it was a game that one expected to erupt!! :-) It was a pleasure to scream GGGGGGOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLL three times tonight in my role as stadium "DJ", too ... 'though wouldn't have minded getting more practice in!

Gamba Osaka:
GK - Kimura
DF - Kaji, Nakazawa, Yamaguchi, Yasuda
MF - Sasaki, Myojin, Hashimoto (Shimohira, 86), Futagawa
FW - Cho (Otsuka, 76), Hirai (Ze Carlos, 76)

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