Gamba rolls into next round of ACL

Kyodo

Former champion Gamba Osaka will face crosstown rival Cerezo in the last 16 of the Asian Champions League after winning Group E with a sweeping 2-0 victory over Tianjin Teda on Wednesday evening.

A trademark free kick by Yasuhito Endo midway through the second half, followed by a Takashi Usami penalty during injury time, sent Akira Nishino’s side into the next round where Gamba will enjoy home advantage in the Osaka derby on May 24.

Cerezo qualified for the second round the night before as runnerup of Group G. In the J. League last season, Gamba won 3-2 at Expo Stadium and the two teams drew 1-1 at Nagai Stadium.

With Gamba’s qualification, all four J. League teams— Nagoya Grampus and Kashima Antlers being the two others— in the continent’s flagship club competition advanced to the knockout phase.

“We created plenty of opportunities in the first half, but we just couldn’t finish,” said Endo, who curled around Tianjin’s wall from 20 meters out to break the deadlock in the 74th minute.

“We won the free kick in a good location. The course, the velocity on the ball was right where I wanted it.”

Gamba went into the match needing three points off Tianjin, who had already punched their ticket to the round of 16, to guarantee themselves a berth in the next phase.