J. League champions Gamba Osaka held off a second-half fight back to edge China’s Dalian Shide 3-2 while JEF United Chiba beat South Korea’s Ulsan Huyndai by the same scoreline at the East Asian “A3” Champions Cup in Tokyo on Wednesday.
Quick-fire goals in the first half from veteran defender Satoshi Yamaguchi and Brazilian striker Magno Alves gave Gamba a 2-0 lead after 19 minutes and Magno Alves’ second early in the second period looked to have killed the day’s opening game off at a sparsely populated National Stadium.
Goals from Zou Jie and Wang Sheng put the Chinese C-League champions right back in the game and Miodrag Tantelic almost snatched an equalizer in injury time but Gamba held on to avenge their 2-0 defeat the last time the two teams met in the Asian Champions League in April.
Naotake Hanyu scored the winner and Tomonori Tateishi saved a late penalty as JEF United Chiba, the Japanese League Cup winners, came from 2-1 down to beat K-League champions Ulsan Hyundai in the second match of the four-team tournament at the same venue.
Gamba made a lively start and Japan midfielder Yasuhito Endo clipped the bar with a clever lob in the 12th minute before setting up the opener for Yamaguchi
Endo whipped in a free kick from the left and Yamaguchi rose to glance past the helpless Chen Dong in the Dalian goal in the 18th minute.
Gamba extended their lead almost immediately after the restart when Akihiro Ienaga scampered down the left flank and crossed for Magno Alves to head home the second.
Dalian rarely threatened and Sidiclei almost made it 3-0 when his header from Endo’s cross was well saved by Chen, who turned villain by gifting Gamba their third goal after 54 minutes.
Magno Alves picked up a poor clearance by the goalkeeper and slotted home angle after a cute one-two with Takahiro Futagawa.
Dalian pulled one back in the 58th minute when Zou pounced after Naoki Matsuyo could only parry Zoran Yankovic’s shot and the Chinese scored again as Wang completed a three-man move with a well-taken effort 18 minutes from time.
Tantelic almost salvaged a point when his angled shot was beaten around the post by Matsuyo in the dying seconds as Gamba held on.
In the day’s second game, all five goals game in a 23 minute spell with Koji Nakajima opening the scoring for JEF in the 21st minute.
Gamba and JEF will both be looking to claim regional bragging rights for the host nation, which has not won the A3 Champions Cup since Kashima Antlers lifted the inaugural title in 2003.
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