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Weekend round-up

Gamba hold Kawasaki to 2-2 draw, move up to 9th place

Kawasaki came into the game in 4th place looking to close in on a Champions League place for next year while the home side were looking to ease lingering relegation worries. In the end both had to settle for a share of the spoils following an entertaining game.

Gamba, missing both Takashi Usami and Ademilson due to injury, pushed Kosuke Onose into a more attacking role just off veteran striker Kazuma Watanabe. This move paid immediate dividends as Shu Kurata and Onose exchanged passes down the left side and Onose then unleashed a thunderous strike from just outside the area which crashed off of the Kawasaki crossbar, bounced on the line, touched the crossbar again before rebounding to the grateful Watanabe who tapped into an empty net, 1-0 Gamba after just 5 minutes.

Kawasaki quickly settled after their early setback and dominated possession and territory for most of the rest of the half, however, they were unable to find an equaliser with tall Brazilian striker Leandro Damiao (an excellent selection as Gamba always struggle against tall or fast Brazilians – way too much respect given) going closest with a header just wide. Yajima and Ideguchi had half chances for Gamba but in truth Kawasaki would have felt slightly aggrieved not to go in level at half time.

The second half started with a surprise change for Kawasaki, impressive young midfielder Ao Tanaka, fresh from scoring a double for Japan U-22 midweek replacing the versatile Hidemasa Morita in central midfield. The switch seemed to galvanise Frontale and they quickly seized the initiative. On 51 minutes, Damiao nodded down for Ryota Oshima and he slid the ball past Masaak Higashiguchi in the Gamba goal. Just 12 minutes later Damiao was the scorer, Kyohei Noborizato broke down the right and fed the ball to ex-Gamba star Akihiro Ienaga who in turn found Damiao who was allowed to swivel (too easily?) and angle a shot past Higashiguchi. 2-1 to the reigning J1 champions.

Kawasaki’s lead was to be short-lived however, as just 2 minutes later Onose swung in a cross from the right and Kurata placed a beautiful header into the bottom corner, his 7th J1 goal of the current campaign which puts him joint 1st with Ademilson. That goal could be Kurata’s final contribution this season as after connecting he was knocked unconscious by Kawasaki right-back Noborizato who was late arriving for the header. Both players had to be replaced with head injuries and it was later revealed by Gamba that Kurata had suffered a fractured left cheekbone, get well soon Shu!

Akihiro Ienaga had two good chances to win the game late on but was off target on both occasions, while Gamba threw on ex-Frontale forward Patric in place of Watanabe, but to no avail. 2-2 the final score.

The result, coupled with others elsewhere moved Gamba up to 9th in the standings, the first time they’ve been in the top half since their round 4 win over Kawasaki back in March. Victory away to crisis-hit Shonan in 2 weeks would put us 7 points ahead of them with 4 games left to play. Following that up with positive results at home to Sendai (Nov 23) and Matsumoto (Nov 30) would surely secure J1 football for next year.

Information
Gamba Osaka 2-2 Kawasaki Frontale
Panasonic Stadium Suita
Attendance: 25,748
Temp./Humidity: 24.8C / 57%

Gamba Osaka: Masaaki Higashiguchi; Ryu Takao, Genta Miura, Kim Young-gwon; Yuya Fukuda, Shinya Yajima, Yosuke Ideguchi, Hiroki Fujiharu (Markel Susaeta 62′); Kosuke Onose, Shu Kurata (Leo Takae 68′); Kazuma Watanabe (Patric 87′).
Unused Subs: Mizuki Hayashi, Shunya Suganuma, David Concha, Yasuhito Endo.
Goals: Watanabe 5′, Kurata 65′
Assists: Onose 65′
Yellow Cards: Fukuda 90+3′

Kawasaki Frontale: Shota Arai; Kyohei Noborizato (Yasuto Wakizaka 69′), Kazuya Yamamura, Shogo Taniguchi, Shintaro Kurumaya; Hidemasa Morita (Ao Tanaka 46′), Ryota Oshima; Akihiro Ienaga, Kengo Nakamura (Hokuto Shimoda 78′), Tatsuya Hasegawa; Leandro Damiao.
Unused Subs: Jung Sung-ryong, Manabu Saito, Yu Kobayashi, Kei Chinen.
Goals: Oshima 51′, Leandro Damiao 63′
Assists: Leandro Damiao 51′, Ienaga 63′
Yellow Cards: Ienaga 41′, Kurumaya 90+6′

Gamba U23 unable to stop winless run

Gamba U23, who’d stopped the rot of 4 successive defeats with a draw away to Gainare Tottori last week, were unable to go one better against Kamatamare Sanuki and had to once again settle for a point.

No overage players were selected for this game so the starting line up had an average age of just 18 years old and contained a mixture of 6 professionals and 5 high school students. Captain Riku Matsuda made his 50th J3 appearance in this game, while Shohei Ogushi returned at right back and Kohei Okuno moved into his more natural position of central midfield.

The first half was a rather cagey affair with Gamba U23’s best chances coming through free-kicks from Ren Shibamoto and Shuhei Kawasaki. In the end neither side could find the back of the net and it was goalless at the interval.

Gamba U23 rejigged things at half time, replacing central midfielder Ko Ise with the more attacking Dai Tsukamoto, a move that allowed Shibamoto to move into a deeper role alongside Okuno, his best position in my opinion. The substitution quickly paid off as Tsukamoto played the ball through to Shibamoto just inside the box in the 65th minute and he managed to prod the ball past Kenta Shimizu in the Sanuki goal to give the visitors the lead.

The joy from that goal would be short-lived though as Matsuda was sent off for a second bookable offence just three minutes later. This prompted another reshuffle as centre-back Shinri Ono came on for right-winger Jiro Nakamura to try to shore things up at the back. Initially Gamba U23 held out well against the waves of Sanuki attacks that followed but an own goal with just 5 minutes of normal time remaining meant they left Shikoku with just a point and will now head into the home derby match against Cerezo U23 next week aiming to snap a 6 game run without a victory.

Information
Kamatamare Sanuki 1-1 Gamba Osaka U23
Pikara Stadium
Attendance: 1,786
Temp. / Humidity: 23.6C / 41%

Kamatamare Sanuki: Kenta Shimizu; Kenji Arabori, Akira Takeuchi, Shogo Asada, Takuya Nagasawa; Kenshiro Suzuki (Kenta Sawada 85′), Kazumasa Takagi, Hironori Nishi (Ryosuke Kijima 68′), Kentaro Shigematsu, Yuki Morikawa; Yuki Fuke (Tomoya Takeshita 79′).
Unused Subs: Yusuke Akahoshi
Goals: Own goal 85′
Yellow Cards: Takagi 30′, Takeshita 90+4′

Gamba Osaka U23: Kosei Tani; Shohei Ogushi, Riku Matsuda, Hayate Toma, Tatsuya Yamaguchi; Kohei Okuno, Ko Ise (Dai Tsukamoto 46′); Jiro Nakamura (Shinri Ono 70′), Ren Shibamoto, Shuhei Kawasaki; Haruto Shirai (Keishi Murakami 90+2′).
Unused Subs: Wang Xinyu
Goals: Shibamoto 65′
Assists: Tsukamoto 65′
Yellow Cards: Okuno 35′, Matsuda 49′, 68′

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