They did it! After almost 8 months, Gamba have finally won a match at home to stop the run of 8 drawn matches in a row whilst extending our unbeaten run at home to 12 games. The relief was evident after the match as the team danced in a group circle, to the happiness of around 8,000 of the 8,993 supporters there. Congratulations to our men in Blue and Black!
But once again, there was not a stream for this match and even the efforts of a great person was probably not the best idea, but we thank him for that. Therefore, this report will lack my usual detail but not my usual passion.
To the team line-ups. As promised, Kenta Hasegawa gave Tatsuya Uchida his first start of the season in place of Yasuyuki Konno, who was not even on the bench; although he assures us that he will take part on Sunday. My guess of Abe coming in for Futagawa was wrong, with the veteran keeping his place after putting in a string of impressive performances. As for the substitutes, Takei and Kawanishi returned as Hirai must have got injured on Sunday. Apart from that, continuity is the key theme from Kenta Hasegawa in recent times, and it is good to see. When he has changed the team, younger players are getting their chance, which is great to see.
As for Matsumoto Yamaga, they kept the same humiliated team that lost to FC Gifu on Sunday, hoping that the defeat would strive them on to take Gamba’s home worries to an all-time low.
Gamba Osaka XI – Fujigaya, Kaji, Nishino, Iwashita, Fujiharu, Endo, Uchida, Ienaga, Futagawa, Kurata, Leandro.
Gamba Osaka Subs – Kimura, Hoshihara, Niwa, Abe, Takei, Paulinho, Kawanishi.
Matsumoto Yamaga XI – Shiroi, Tetsuto, Iio, Iida, Tatara, Iwanuma, Yoon, Tamabayashi, Park, Funayama, Nagasawa.
Matsumoto Yamaga Subs – Murayama, Kawanabe, Komatsu, Kusunose, Iio, Hitai, Shiozawa.
I mentioned in my match preview that Gamba would need an early goal to settle them down to the task of finally winning at home, and that was exactly what they did. Now I know all these views from Japan on this page are coming from the Gamba players. Joke. It all came from good work down the left involving Hiroki Fujiharu. In the 3rd minute, he sent in a cross to Ienaga, whose header was put wide. This was just a warning sign of what would come just a minute later. After collecting a pass from Kurata, he was given too much time and space to pick out his cross, getting it just over the head of the defender at the near post, and with Leandro lurking in a fantastic position behind Iio, he knew he had to put a foot out to stop Leandro getting a tap-in from 5 yards, but by doing so, he put it into his own net. That early goal we needed, and the luck we never got against Verdy. 1-0 to Gamba!
It was pretty much domination by Gamba from here on out without that desired second goal. Gamba had several shots after the goal to 1 for Matsumoto. Leandro was first in the 10th minute followed by Futagawa in the 16th, but his connection was not great and his shot hit the defender. 2 minutes later, Kurata played a ball to Ienaga through the middle of the pitch and he cut in but his shot missed the target. Kurata was involved again just 4 minutes later, getting in front of goal but having his shot blocked, with the rebound falling to Leandro but he could not get his shot away properly. In the 32nd minute, Gamba won a free-kick in Endo territory but his shot sailed well over the bar. A glorious chance came again from the left side through Fujiharu. His cross was misjudged by the defender at the back post which allowed Ienaga to control the ball and take it down off his chest but with the ball falling to his weaker right foot, his shot went marginally wide and over the bar. He probably should have scored and would have done so if it was on his left foot.
Futagawa had the final shot for Gamba of the half but the angle was not quite right, while Matsumoto’s only shot came at the end of the half from which they won a corner, yet that was easily dealt with by Fujigaya.
It was 1-0 at the break but Gamba’s play was fascinating. Even though they went down the right hand-side more often than not, it was the left hand side that was causing the most trouble with Fujiharu getting forward well. There was a real sense of patience, especially with Ienaga cutting in from the right often to give a simple ball to the middle, whilst Leandro was here, there and everywhere. It was fluid by Gamba and Matsumoto barely made it out of their own half. Having been so strong in this half, you just did not want the good work go to waste in the next 45.
In order to have any chance of getting a foothold in this match, Matsumoto needed to make some changes, which they did at the start of the half. Yoon and Nagasawa departed in place of Kusunose and Shiozawa. But would it work?
The short answer is no. Gamba were straight back onto the front foot again with Kurata just missing the goal in the 48th minute. He got another chance 5 minutes later after receiving a pass from Futagawa after getting round the back of the defender, but his right foot shot was blocked by the goalkeeper. In the 55th minute, Ienaga once again had a chance and once again missed the target. Less than 2 minutes later and Matsumoto had a shot, but failed to trouble Fujigaya, of course.
Tamabayashi picked up a yellow card in the 63rd minute for the visitors in what would be the only booking of the match. A couple of corners came for the hosts after good work by first Leandro and Futagawa, then Uchida and Kurata. Evidently, nothing came of these corners but Gamba were playing with confidence in what they were doing, limiting the opposition to simple saves for a newspaper reading Fujigaya in goal.
The visitors gambled in the 74th minute with their final substitution, taking off Iio for Kitai while Gamba took off Futagawa for Abe, of course, and then Ienaga for Paulinho, who lasted just 5 minutes before having to come off himself in what lust have been an injury, allowing Kawanishi to replace him. These last 2 substitutions are very interesting, as both were forward-thinking with Hasegawa evidently not worried too much about the attacking “threat” from Yamaga. They had a few corners but never troubled the solid backline that we now have, whilst Abe was customarily his confident self, going for a couple of shots in the dying embers of the match.
That was it. We had won! GAMBA HAD WON! Even though there was no stream again, I felt a strong sense of relief for the players, happiness for them, but overall a feeling that they had been long overdue with this victory. The most positive thing was that the defence was never really troubled. The absence of Konno was not a problem and whatever Uchida had to do he did. Nishino is just getting better and better and at only 19, he will definitely be one for the future (and now too). It is evident that we need to get our shooting boots on so that we can make games a bit more comfortable but that is the only worry. With the defence as strong as it is at the moment, we need only to mention it but not fixate on it. We did the job we needed to do; this is the next improvement we would like to see.
I’ve come up with some statistics based on League Matches only that are for interesting reading. I love stats, so this is for me:
Last home win v Consadole Sapporo (7-2), 25th August 2012.
Last home defeat v Yokohama F.Marinos (1-2), 14th July 2012.
Last time we won twice in a row v Nagoya Grampus (0-5) and v Consadole Sapporo (7-2), 18th August 2012 and 25th August 2012.
Last time we had clean sheets twice in a row v Montedio Yamagata (0-5) and v Kashima Antlers (1-0), 22nd October 2011 and 3rd November 2011.
Last time we won 1-0 twice in a row v Omiya Ardija and v Kashima Antlers, 3rd March 2007 and 11th March 2007.
Progression. This team may just have what it takes to get those all-important 3 points that could make the difference this season; and last season too.
Man of the Match:
Not having watched the game is a real hindrance for this part, so let’s pick EVERYONE! I am extremely proud of the team for having come through a very difficult start of the season to now be in 2nd place and looking solid. Gamba have been frustrating, annoying, useless, unlucky, fortunate, mesmerising, fantastic and world-class. The season is still young and we have a long path ahead of us if we are going to get back home to J1, but the team have shown the qualities necessary to make it a successful trip back home. The younger players, particularly Nishino, have shown that they can step in and make a difference, whilst the experienced players (except MYOJIN THE PIRATE) have shown their wide range of skill and intelligence in their play. With 3 wins in 4 games, with 3 clean sheets from those 4 games, things are looking up, and that is where we need to be aiming, whilst looking at the teams behind us seriously. I am a proud fan of Gamba Osaka, so congratulations for getting this monkey off your back, Gamba. Now express yourself wherever you go. Do your best!
Where it leaves both teams:
Gamba confirm their spot in 2nd place and go to 17 points. The gap to Vissel Kobe is still 5 points after they won 2-1 to a dogged Giravanz Kitakyushu. Gamba share their 17 points with V-Varen Nagasaki, who won away to Yokohama FC. JEF United slipped to a shock 2-0 defeat at the hands of Mito HollyHock at home whilst Kyoto Sanga struggled again and were held to a 1-1 draw with the only other unbeaten J2 team, Fagiano Okayama. Overall, another good day for Gamba with regards to their probable rivals for the season. Up next for us a potentially tricky away game to Kataller Toyama. Let’s hope we get a stream this weekend!
As for Matsumoto Yamaga, they fall to 15th place after their first away defeat of the season and they were simply outclassed today. Things do not get easier for them as they will search for their first home win of the season against an in-form Tokyo Verdy. They should not be in trouble at all in terms of their J2 survival and will be disappointed with their start to their season. They have plenty of time to improve and I am sure they will. I would be surprised if they do not make it into at least the top-half of the table. They will need to learn quickly for their last 2 defeats against opponents at the opposite end of the J2 spectrum.