FC Tokyo 0-1 Gamba Osaka 10 October 2020 Match Summary

I was originally planning to put this into my next match preview, but as there were so many controversial issues in this game I decided to give this an article of it’s own. Hope you enjoy!

Gamba battled to a 6th win in-a-row with a 1-0 triumph over FC Tokyo in farcical conditions at Ajinomoto Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The victory moves them within 3 points of their hosts with 3 fewer games played. City neighbours Cerezo’s 1-0 defeat at Nagoya made it a good weekend for Nerazzurri fans who will surely now see a genuine chance of at least a top 4 finish.

Tsuneyasu Miyamoto made 5 personnel and 1 positional change from the midweek win at Tosu with centre-backs, Gen Shoji and Kim Young-gwon, central midfielder Yuki Yamamoto and forward Patric coming in while Takashi Usami played on the right-side of midfield for the first time this year and Yuya Fukuda switched from right-midfield / right-wing back to an orthodox left back role. Shunya Suganuma, Ryo Shinzato, Hiroki Fujiharu, Shinya Yajima and Kazuma Watanabe made way with Shinzato and Fujiharu the only two of that quintet to not feature on the bench.

The match kicked off with standing water visible on large chunks of the ground which made neat, intricate passing moves an impossibility. I think I commented after the U23s played a fixture in even worse conditions away to Gifu earlier in the year that it’s really unfair to judge players’ abilities on such a surface, but you can certainly learn something about their character in a trying situation such as this. I’ll try to take that into account in my summary of the game.

Gamba were initially the brighter of the two sides and took the game to their opponents in the opening ten minutes. With that said, inside the first quarter both teams enjoyed two decent chances apiece, with the home side having by far the more dangerous ones. Both of the Gasmen’s centre-backs will feel they should have done much better with headers from Hirotaka Mita set-plays, however, neither could find the target and Gamba were able to breathe a little easier. The Nerazzurri’s Brazilian front-pairing both had half chances, but Ademilson’s header and Patric’s drive from outside the box following an excellent run by Usami where he went past 4 defenders were as close as they came. After that, the weather was the game’s MVP and chances were at a premium.

Regular readers of my blog will know my views on handball penalties, so I’ll come flat out and say it, the spot kick awarded to Gamba in the 39th minute shouldn’t have been given in a month of Sundays in my opinion. The official rules may say differently, but Yosuke Ideguchi’s cross which went over the head of Tokyo right-winger Hirotaka Mita and was headed into the back of his arm from literally a yard away by Ademilson left me and many others asking, what else could Mita have done? Ademilson stepped up coolly, waited for Gasmen ‘keeper Akihiro Hayashi to dive to his right and promptly dispatched his kick low into the opposite corner. 1-0 Gamba at half-time.

The field initially seemed more playable at the start of the second stanza and it opened relatively brightly with Ademilson feeding Usami from the right-side, but Gamba’s talisman saw his shot well smothered by Hayashi from close range. Tokyo’s Brazilians, Adailton, Leandro and Diego Oliveira then combined to tee up compatriot Arthur Silva whose goalbound effort was well blocked by Yuya Fukuda.

Shortly after those chances, the rain came down heavily once more which led to off-the-ball incidents taking centre stage. The referee didn’t help matters by not giving a couple of clear fouls on Arthur Silva and that seemed to build tensions among the capital club’s Brazilian contingent. Whereas in the match at Panasonic Stadium, the South Americans and Yojiro Takahagi were able to waste time arguing with the officials from a winning position, at 1-0 down it only served as a handbrake on their side’s progress here.

It was all a bit much for Leandro who appeared to miss with an elbow aimed at the head of ex-Tokyo man Kim Young-gwon in the 54th minute. Not content with that he clearly punched Yuki Yamamoto in the face while chasing a long ball 15 minutes later. The referee didn’t see the contact and it will be interesting to see what punishment, if any, is meted out by the JLeague.

Tokyo’s players surrounded the ref pleading for Kim Young-gwon to see red less than 10 minutes later after he accidentally landed a high kick on an onrushing Leandro on the edge of his own box. I could see their point, but would counter it by saying that the on-loan Kashima man shouldn’t have been on the field at that point to make the run in the first place.

Leandro did, however, see the final whistle, curling free kicks past either post from the edge of the box after Kim and Yamamoto fouls, which was kind of ironic as they were they players he’d clashed with earlier. The home side pressed in the last ten minutes plus additional time, but Gamba held strong to earn their first win away to FC Tokyo since 2001. 6 wins in-a-row with 3 clean sheets kept during that run, let the good times continue to roll!

The games just keep coming and coming, next up are defending champions Yokohama F.Marinos at Panasonic Stadium on Wednesday night. Look out for my preview of that which should be live on Monday evening Japanese time.


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