OSAKA – Midfielders Yasuhito Endo and Hiroshi Kiyotake shared the spoils in their much-hyped J. League matchup as Gamba and Cerezo played out a 1-1 draw in the Osaka derby on Saturday evening.
Kim Bo Kyung had put an end to the stalemate for Cerezo with less than a quarter-hour to go, only to see Gamba’s Sota Nakazawa level minutes later.
Gamba picked up a point to climb to third place on 40 points, two points off the pace of new leaders and defending champions Nagoya Grampus who thrashed Sanfrecce Hiroshima 3-0 away.
In-form Gamba, who had won their last three times out to move within two points of first, had hoped to reproduce their season-opening victory at Expo Stadium back in March but settled for half-chances in the first half against a Cerezo team full of defensive resolve.
Kiyotake, who set up the second and third in Japan’s comprehensive 3-0 win over South Korea in his national-team debut on Wednesday, looked sharp throughout the 90 minutes for Cerezo yet couldn’t quite click with his teammates before halftime.
The two sides left it late to generate the goals for the near capacity crowd of 37,172, the hosts breaking the deadlock in the 76th minute through a fantastic strike by Kim.
Kiyotake set things up for Kim, guiding the South Korean international into the box with a quick one-two with forward Shu Kurata.
Kim did all the rest, blasting his fifth goal of the campaign into the top left corner to push Cerezo in front.
The lead didn’t last long for Cerezo, however, as Nakazawa equalized just three minutes later with Endo this time brushing his creative stroke.
Along the inside right channel, Endo curled in a cross for the heart of the area where Nakazawa rose over the defense, nodding in a header to make it 1-1.
The teams traded punches the rest of the way but failed to come up with the deciding goal in only the second draw of the derby in 28 meetings.
Elsewhere in J1, Shimizu S-Pulse thrashed Omiya 3-0 at home as Takuma Edamura and former Japan stars Shinji Ono and Naohiro Takahara all struck for Afshin Ghotbi’s side.
Vissel shocked Yokohama F. Marinos 2-0 in Kobe, while Kashima Antlers edged Vegalta Sendai 1-0 away and Montedio Yamagata beat Ventforet Kofu 3-1 in a battle of the relegation challenged.