Despite not being able to watch the game, Gamba did not disappoint today as we apparently eased to a 2-0 win over Kansai rivals Vissel Kobe in front of 8,378 fans who had braved the cold for this midweek match.
Kenta Hasegawa made more changes than I had forecast. Kaji and Fujiharu were rested completely with Hiroshima coming to Banpaku on Saturday so Yonekura and Oh Jae-Suk took their places whilst Iwashita, Endo and Omori all had slight niggles that need not have been risked – Nishino, Abe and Futagawa replaced them. Tatsuya Uchida and Kurata were rested but still on the bench and were replaced by captain for the day Myojin and Lins respectively, the latter picking up his first start in the beautiful blue and black uniform. On the bench came Kim Jung-Ya, Yuto Uchida, Naoki Ogawa and surprisingly Yosuke Ideguchi who is still a member of the youth set-up but seems to have a bright future ahead of him, particularly having spent some of pre-season with the top team.
Gamba started brightly and had a couple of chances through Futagawa and Lins, but both their efforts were deflected out for corners and it took Vissel 20 minutes or so to get their first decent chances in the game. The first came for Matsumura who was well denied by Yonekura and then Morioka stung the palms of Higashiguchi from 20 yards as his shot swerved in both directions on route to goal.
These couple of attempts made us respond, firstly through Lins who flicked a header backwards from a Futagawa cross but it was a simple catch for Yamamoto in-goal whilst Abe fired well wide of the target from 20 yards as we stole the ball again from the Vissel midfield and springing into the counter attack. There was not much to talk about in the first half really but there were at least signs that we were getting into some sort of a groove and were actually making chances.
The second half could not have started any better as Lins opened his account in the 47th minute. An Oh throw in was flicked on by Konno to Lins on the edge of the penalty area and he kept moving across it with the ball whilst being under some considerable pressure by the Kobe defence and whilst falling, he pulled out a spectacular effort with his right foot from 20 yards that curved away from the despairing dive of Yamamoto and into the side-netting to make it 1-0. A superb goal whilst losing his balance – his team-mates mobbed him.
If he thought Sato would be happy for him, he was mistaken as Sato then matched his effort six minutes later. Konno nabbed the ball in midfield and broke forward and passed to Lins whose touch let the ball go but Kitamoto’s clearance/pass came straight to Sato who took his effort first time, curling it around Iwanami and beyond Yamamoto. Lovely finish which will definitely give him confidence having been criticised in the past few games. Delighted for him!
Chances were then wasted to make it 3-0 as Futagawa was played in by Abe but he was denied by Yamamoto from 6 yards whilst the Vissel defence was not helping itself, with a slow back pass cut out by Lins who went round the keeper and thought he had scored, only for Kitamoto to block his effort superbly on the line. Our final decent chance of the game came from Abe who drilled a lovely effort from 25 yards with his left foot by Yamamoto pulled off a good save low to his right.
It looked like we fully deserved the win and should have had more than two goals which is great considering we were poor against Sendai. This game allowed Hasegawa to see what the fringe players had to offer, and boy didn’t they make a statement! And another clean sheet – 3 in a row! Things might not be perfect but they look good nonetheless.
Gamba Osaka 2-0 Team Rocket!
Gamba Man of the Match
Having not watched the game, I can only go on what I have heard about the players from friends and fans alike, as well as Kenta Hasegawa’s post-match comments. So Tomokazu Myojin wins the race to this prestigious prize – having not played any part of our previous 3 games, he was given the captain’s armband and apparently shone with it, being the linchpin in midfield in both defensive and attacking terms. A friend said Myojin’s play meant that he could definitely be used as a main player over Tatsuya Uchida when needed and I do not doubt that one bit but whether he will start against Sanfreece on Sunday is another thing, being 36 years old. However, I am glad he did very well, just like Yonekura, Abe and Lins and am happy competition for places is high.
With Shimizu S-Pulse beating Vegalta Sendai 4-0 and FC Tokyo defeating Kashima Antlers 3-1, Gamba sit in 3rd place in Group A. Sagan Tosu have yet to play a game. Kenta Hasegawa said he aims to win all home games and take a point from each away game to qualify with 12 points from the group stage. A very good start towards that!
Photo taken from Gamba Osaka’s Official Site. No copyright infringement intended. Original here.