OSAKA – Gamba Osaka were outclassed by Copa Libertadores champions River Plate 3-0 in the Suruga Bank Championship on Tuesday.
The Japanese treble winners, less first-choice striker Takashi Usami and goalkeeper Masaaki Higashiguchi, failed to keep up with the visitors from Argentina, who went ahead in the eighth minute through Carlos Sanchez’s penalty.
River Plate, who will return to Japan in December for the Club World Cup as South American champions, made it 2-0 in the 31st minute when Gabriel Mercado nodded in from a corner.
They tripled their lead one minute past the hour as Gonzalo Martinez rifled home, giving Marcelo Gallardo’s men all the breathing room they needed.
Gamba, who are away to FC Tokyo in the J. League on Sunday, had a few chances through Patric to keep the game close, but the usually dependable Brazilian had an off night.
“We weren’t accurate enough in front of goal and we made too many easy mistakes,” Gamba captain Yasuhito Endo said. “Had we done those two things better, it would have been a much closer contest.
“We need to forget about this and move on. There’s still plenty of the season left to be played and we have to keep marching toward our goal of becoming Asian champions.”
The Suruga Bank Championship pits the Nabisco Cup champions against the holders of the Copa Sudamericana. Japanese clubs have won the one-off the last five times since its inception in 2008.
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