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Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Jubilo 4-3 Gamba

Peter reports on Gamba's mishap at hapless Jubilo.

Gamba showed good spirit against bottom-of-the-table Jubilo Iwata to come back three times from being a goal down to equalise, but, anyway you look at it, something is badly wrong when Gamba concede four goals to the bottom team.

The first half: Gamba started off playing reasonably good possession football and had the edge for most of the first half. The game was proceeding more or less as Gamba fans had expected until the 29th minute when Yamamoto tried a fierce, high long shot, Fujigaya failed to hold it and, before he could get his hands to the ball again, Maeda, completely free, was able to jump up and head the loose ball into the net. Gamba responded well to this setback and six minutes later, after Endo had set Takagi free down the left, the latter got in a good, fast, low cross which Hashimoto in the left channel skilfully deflected just inside the near post from about 10 metres. After that Cho picked up a knock and appeared to be limping a bit, but Gamba continued to have the edge in possession; so we reached half-time at 1-1 with little hint of the disasters to come.

The second half: Cho failed to appear, presumably injured, and so did Nakazawa, ditto, although there had been no obvious hint that he was hurt in the first half, so one wonders if he was dropped for allowing Maeda to score unchallenged. Cho was replaced by attacking wide-right midfielder sub Sasaki, and Nakazawa by Takagi who in turn was replaced by sub Michihiro Yasuda. Gamba started the second-half with a 4-5-1 formation, with Sasaki taking Hashimoto’s place wide right, Endo moving into the centre of the middle five, and Hashimoto taking Endo’s place in centre-left midfield. Unfortunately for them, the Gamba defence was undone eight minutes after the break by a beautiful through pass from Naruoka which Maeda controlled with one touch, beating Takagi in the process, and scored with a fierce ground shot from about twenty metres. Nishino responded to this setback in the 71st minute by taking off defender Takagi and replacing him with FW Dodo, who played as a second striker. Three minutes later, Nishino’s attacking intentions seemed to have paid off when, after good work by Sasaki, Dodo was able to set up Hirai to equalise with a clinical finish from about twelve metres. We were then treated to two superb goals in two minutes to make it three in three minutes. First of all, in the 75th minute, Maeda provided a good cross to set LWB Park Joo-Ho free in the left channel to fire in a scorcher from 22 metres. Then in the 76th, Endo provided a wonderful curving very long ball from defence for Hirai to run on to, just beat the goalie to the ball and then steer it with the outside of his foot past the goalie and into the net from about nine metres. Gamba had equalised for the third time. However, Gamba’s attacking approach was to end in failure in the 81st minute as, for the second time, Sasaki allowed Park Joo-Ho to get in unmarked: this time closer to the goal and, after his first shot was blocked on the line, he was able to poke the ball into the net from a lying position. Gamba were able to make one defiant gesture in the last nine minutes as, with three minutes to go, Endo got in a good position to head wide, when, perhaps, he should have done better.

This was an exciting game with some good goals; but, regrettably, the defending was nearer that of a relegation battle than to a championship clash. The last two weeks Gamba’s midfield and attack have started to move well; but Fujigaya is not performing at his best--and have the ageing defenders in front of him started creaking?

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