SUITA, Osaka Pref. – Brazilian striker Bare scored a second-half brace as Gamba Osaka kept their J. League title hopes alive with a 2-0 win over visiting JEF United Chiba on Saturday.
ball in first-half action at Kashiwanoha Stadium on Saturday. The game ended in a 1-1 draw.
Victory put the newly crowned Nabisco Cup winners back within four points of Urawa Reds, who visit Kawasaki Frontale on Sunday, keeping the pressure on the leaders with three games of the season left to play.
Urawa tops the table with 68 points, Gamba have 64 while Kashima Antlers stayed third on 63 after a 3-2 win over Yokohama F. Marinos, with journeyman striker Marquinhos scoring twice for the visitors at Nissan Stadium.
Gamba showed no apparent ill effects from their exertions in the Emperor’s Cup penalty shootout win against Montedio Yamagata in midweek, but failed to click in a cagey first half at Expo Stadium.
Chances were few and far between but Gamba improved after the break and should have taken the lead after 51 minutes with an opportunity that Magno Alves will wonder how on earth he missed.
Magno Alves latched onto a Bare pass from the left flank, but after taking the ball past advancing goalkeeper Masahiro Okamoto, the diminutive striker somehow contrived to hit the side netting with the goal at his mercy.
Bare’s form has been indifferent of late and the burly forward was guilty of an awful miss three minutes later when he overelaborated and blazed off target after beating the offside trap.
Bare made amends though when he smashed home to break the deadlock just before the hour mark. Yasuhito Endo twisted and turned in the box and sent a square pass to Bare, who lashed past Okamoto, three defenders and into the back of the net.
Endo was again the architect for the second, lofting a perfectly weighted pass over the top of Chiba’s defense for Bare to run onto and slot his 19th of the season past Okamoto to make the points safe.
“We have had a grueling fixture schedule and I have had to change the system a bit, physically we are tired too, but everything went smoother than I expected today,” said Gamba manager Akira Nishino.
“We have gained experience from playing in the Nabisco final and Emperor’s Cup games, the type of tight games where one play can change the match. It’s been a tough week but the players have stayed focused and we have gained a great deal,” he said.
In other matches, Leandro scored his 14th of the season as Vissel Kobe increased Ventforet Kofu’s relegation fears with a comfortable 4-1 win at Home’s Stadium, while Albirex Niigata came from behind to beat FC Tokyo 2-1 courtesy of an Edmilson double.
Kashiwa Reysol were held 1-1 at home by already relegated Yokohama FC while Nagoya Grampus Eight and Jubilo Iwata played out a 0-0 stalemate.
Shimizu S-Pulse play Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Omiya Ardija face Oita Trinita in Sunday’s other matches.
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