MATSUMOTO – Substitute Shu Kurata scored deep into stoppage time to rescue a point for Gamba Osaka in a 1-1 draw away to struggling Matsumoto Yamaga in the J. League on Sunday.
A superb early opener from Obina looked to have secured second-from-bottom Matsumoto maximum points, but Kurata, on for Yosuke Ideguchi in the second half, headed home in the 93rd minute to earn the Asian Champions League semifinalists a share of the spoils.
“We couldn’t get anything going, but I was able to establish some rhythm and set things up so we could get a goal back,” said Kurata, who also scored in Wednesday’s 3-2 win over Jeonbuk Motors in the second leg of the ACL quarterfinals.
“It was a great ball in from Takashi (Usami) and just a case of me getting on the end of it and putting it away.”
The result puts last season’s domestic treble winners Gamba on 19 points in fifth spot from 11 games in the second stage, six behind leaders Sanfrecce Hiroshima. In Sunday’s evening game, Kashiwa Reysol and bottom club Montedio Yamagata played out a 0-0 draw at Hitachi Stadium. Kashiwa moved into third spot on 20 points.
With just two wins so far in the second stage, Matsumoto made a dream start and took the lead after just seven minutes.
Hayuma Tanaka sent in a cross from the right and Obina’s markers Koki Yonekura and Hiroki Fujiharu could only watch as the Brazilian set himself up with a fabulous first touch before slamming the ball high past Masaaki Higashiguchi.
Usami, who missed Wednesday’s game through suspension, brought two smart saves out of Tomohiko Murayama in as many minutes as Gamba pushed for an equalizer.
The Japan striker continued to pepper shots on Murayama’s goal after the break and Gamba finally made the breakthrough as Kurata glanced his in-swinging ball inside the far post.
The match was preceded by a moment’s silence in memory of Dettmar Cramer, who helped develop soccer as a coach in Japan the 1960s.
Dubbed the “father of Japanese soccer,” the German passed away on Thursday at age 90.
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