SUITA, OSAKA PREF. – Ryunosuke Noda headed in a late equalizer to give Nagoya Grampus a 1-1 draw away to holder Gamba Osaka in the first leg of the Nabisco Cup quarterfinals on Wednesday night.
Takahiro Futagawa gave Gamba the lead after just six minutes, but Noda scored a crucial away goal at the near post with 14 minutes left at Expo Stadium. The return leg takes place Sunday.
“If we prepare the way we always do and put up a fight I think we can get a better result (on Sunday) than we did today,” said Noda.
Gamba, Kashima Antlers, Kashiwa Reysol and Urawa Reds all joined the competition from the last eight due to their involvement in the Asian Champions League.
The semifinals will be held over two legs on Oct. 7 and 11, and the final will take place at Saitama Stadium 2002 on Oct. 31.
Last season’s treble winner Gamba got off to a fast start and opened the scoring with its first attempt on goal, Futagawa taking a pass from the right from Linz and poking the ball inside Seigo Narazaki’s left-hand post.
Nagoya rarely threatened, and Yasuyuki Konno hit the crossbar for Gamba with a header eight minutes before the break, although the linesman had his flag up.
Gamba again went close when Yosuke Ideguchi flashed a shot over the bar just before the hour mark, but Noda made it all square when he got in front of his marker and headed in Kisho Yano’s pinpoint cross.
“I haven’t really done anything in the year and 10 months since I arrived at Grampus and hopefully from now I will be able to give a little something back to the fans,” said Noda.
Yano nearly snatched victory for Grampus when he hit the post deep into stoppage time.
In other games, Hiroshi Ibusuki scored twice as Albirex Niigata put one foot in the semifinals with a 5-0 drubbing of J. League first-stage winners Urawa at Big Swan, Kazuma Watanabe sealed a 2-0 win for Vissel Kobe at Reysol and Shoya Nakajima’s late equalizer gave FC Tokyo a 2-2 draw at home to Kashima.
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