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Gamba triumph over Ardija, earn first victory at Suita Stadium

Kyodo

Gamba Osaka beat Omiya Ardija 2-1 on Friday night to post their first win at their new Suita Stadium, ending the visitors’ perfect start to the J. League season in the process.

Former Japan defender Yasuyuki Konno headed Gamba in front early in the second half and Hiroyuki Abe swept home the second before former Gamba midfielder Akihiro Ienaga replied for Omiya in the second minute of injury time.

Gamba improved to six points from three games, the same record as Ardija.

“It’s great that we could get our first home win and hopefully we can rack up more wins and celebrate with our fans,” said Konno.

“We were able to keep pushing forward and our shape was good and we got two goals. We are happy with that. Hopefully we can stay on an unbeaten roll.”

Looking to build on back-to-back wins over FC Tokyo and Kashiwa Reysol, Omiya nearly took the lead with less than three minutes gone, but Gamba goalkeeper Masaaki Higashiguchi produced a smart save to turn Yuzo Iwakami’s free kick behind for a corner.

Higashiguchi’s counterpart Hitoshi Shiohata pulled off a fine stop of his own from Takashi Usami on the quarter-hour mark, parrying the Japan striker’s shot before gathering the deflected follow-up from Hiroyuki Abe.

Higashiguchi was tested once again and pushed away a well-taken strike from Keigo Numata after the defender had controlled a weak clearance from Konno with eight minutes left in the first half.

But it was Gamba that broke the deadlock in the 49th minute, Konno taking advantage of slack marking to get on the end of Usami’s corner and beat Shiohata with a downward header.

“It was a great ball and I was able to put it away well,” said Konno.

The home side then moved in front with a wonderfully worked move, Hiroki Fujihara collecting a cute pass from Yasuhito Endo and setting up Abe to drill home in the 61st minute.

In Friday’s other game, Takuma Abe scored an 88th-minute winner as FC Tokyo edged Vissel Kobe 1-0 at home.