SHIZUOKA – Shimizu S-Pulse were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Gamba Osaka despite keeping the pressure on the holders and nearly snatching a last-gasp winner in the first leg of their J. League Nabisco Cup semifinal on Wednesday.
Takahiro Futagawa curled in an 11th-minute free kick from outside the box to put Gamba in front on his return from a foot injury before Takuma Edamura scored the equalizer nine minutes into the second half at Nihondaira stadium.
Shimizu piled on the pressure toward the end of the game but failed to finish it off, with substitute striker Kazuki Hara hitting the bar with a header in the last touch of the game.
At Mizuho stadium, Brazilian forward Ueslei capitalized on poor defending to score in the 70th minute and earn Oita Trinita a 1-1 draw away to Nagoya Grampus.
Ueslei’s equalizer came just five minutes after Norwegian striker Frode Johnsen had put Nagoya ahead.
The return legs are scheduled for Sunday.