Tosu was a wet and horrible place on Saturday night as Gamba slumped to our second defeat of the season, going down 2-0 to hosts Sagan Tosu. It was probably a result that we did not fully deserve but defensive lapses and a bit of impotence up front cut us short of taking at least a point back to Osaka. The majority of the 12,115 rain-drenched fans went home happy.
Kenta Hasegawa made two changes to the side that started against Sanfrecce Hiroshima last weekend. In came Oh Jae-Suk For Akira Kaji at right-back, with him not even on the bench whilst just before kick-off we discovered that Koki Yonekura will be out injured for around 8 weeks with right knee ligament damage – Oh’s first appearance in J1. Going forward, Sato came into the starting eleven in place of Shu Kurata who has seemed a little off this season. This sent Lins out to the left and Endo behind Sato, although the former sometimes made it a 3-man midfield. Places on the bench came for Kim Jung-Ya against the team he was loaned to last season.
Gamba started beautifully and continued to do so as we dominated the first half. Niwa had the first chance but headed into the side-netting from a corner whilst Sato almost got through on goal a minute later but his heavy touch let him down. 5 minutes later, Lins barrelled an effort on goal with his left foot following a corner which Hayashi had to push over. Shortly after, the joke performance of the referee Junpei Iida started as he was giving Sagan free kicks for nothing and not awarding us free kicks in spite of similar fouls.
Sagan’s first chance came from a free kick that should never have been which they duly moved 10 yards back to get good distance from goal but the effort was still sent wide of the post. The next 10 minutes were fairly uneventful and we held onto possession well before Endo turned on the style to split the defence open for Fujiharu but his cross was blocked. Lins was looking bubbly throughout the half but we were unable to break the deadlock before half time.
It was a great half with just rewards for our play. Sagan did not seem like much of a threat but the referee did. Yet would our impotence from the other league games thus far come back and haunt us was the question?
Niwa started the half wobbly as he got himself caught on the ball as the last man and managed to sneak it away to the opposition who worked the ball left and just missed the far post with a shot across goal. Iwashita was then booked for handball and the following free kick hit the wall but a stunning double save from Masaaki Higashiguchi five minutes later kept us level. Niwa got caught out by a simple ball from the middle of the park and his marker headed across goal with the goal begging but his low header was well saved by our keeper, pushed onto another Sagan attacker who dived in for the first cross and he saved it again on the line. Terrific goalkeeper!
Ex-Gamba man Yasuda then forced Higashiguchi into a low save at his near post whilst Myojin was withdrawn for Uchida as Gamba looked lost in the second half – a complete transformation. Higashiguchi got booked for something and then had to pick the ball out of his net as a long ball from the right wing near the half-way line managed to find Toyoda completely unmarked although surrounded by 4 players – Iwashita looked the guilty party as he flailed to get back at him.
Niwa was pulled out for Futagawa as Konno dropped back to defence and Endo to partner Uchida in the middle. We were almost level minutes later as the sub slid a ball through for Lins who drilled across goal but also centimetres past the far post with Sato not quite quick enough to get there. Futagawa gave the ball away, Sagan attacked down their right and cross for Kim to poke in ahead of the covering Oh with Konno nowhere to be seen.
The game was not done though as Konno had a clear header in the 90th minute pushed away superbly by Hayashi in goal – the defender should have done better – whilst Lins went solo and crashed a beautiful efort off the cross bar in what would have been a deserved goal for him and the team.
Gamba Man of the Match
I think Lins was our best player today. He was bubbly and sharp and was always looking for go forward even if that meant going by himself. He had a handful of superb efforts on goal that on another day would have given him a goal or two but right until the end, he was positive. He is starting to grow into this team and the sooner he starts scoring the goals regularly the better. I was really pleased with his performance and never give up attitude in such tough conditions and with another crap referee. I am expecting big things from this man and he will come good soon I am sure.
Gamba slip to 14th in the table after the first month of the league season. But what do people expect, for us to be in the top 4? Yes actually people do which is baffling and annoying, but 14th is probably not where we deserve to be going on performances (I would say at least 3 points more would be about right) but when you cannot score, you must not concede and today we did not do that. It looks like it will be another tough year at this point but the season is on
Photo taken from Gamba Osaka’s Official Site. No copyright infringement intended. Original here.