Osaka – Gamba Osaka wasted a number of decent chances to settle for a 1-1 draw at home against Melbourne Victory in the Asian Champions League on Wednesday, taking two draws out of two Group G games.
Urawa Reds went down 1-0 away to Pohang Steelers in Group H, failing to add to their 2-0 win against Sydney FC, and they now await ties away and home against big-spending champions Guangzhou Evergrande.
Gamba, who battled to a scoreless draw away to Suwon Bluewings a week earlier before suffering a 1-0 loss to Kashima Antlers in their J.League opener on Sunday, went behind just three minutes in when Melbourne defender Nick Ansell’s misplaced header from a right corner bounced off a Gamba defender and Ansell again to roll in.
“Even though we were being careful with set-pieces, we conceded from our own mistakes. We need to concentrate more,” said captain Yasuhito Endo, who later came to the rescue for his side.
The home team failed to create any clear-cut chances until the 32nd minute when a cross from the right dropped to Japan U-23 midfielder Yosuke Ideguchi outside the box, but his low effort was saved by keeper Danny Vukovic.
Gamba began to put pressure further up the field after the break and pepper Melbourne’s goal. Patric struck the bar from 25 yards out in the 54th minute and Takashi Usami had an effort saved when he flicked left-back Hiroki Fujiharu’s cross, before the leveler arrived in an unlikely manner from the resulting corner.
It was taken short and Usami’s cross from the left saw Endo totally unmarked at the far post. The veteran neatly placed low header in the 57 minute for Gamba’s first goal at their new home Suita Stadium. Gamba kept pressing, Fujiharu slicing his shot wide minutes later when a cross from the right found its way through.
Patric then threw away two chances, heading Endo’s free kick over the bar from 6 meters out with 10 minutes to go. Nine minutes later, the Brazilian spurned another chance as he could only steer the effort straight to the keeper from 8 meters.
“We wanted to get the three points, playing at home. That was the minimum and it’s a really disappointing result,” Endo said. “I would like to take the point positively, but we wanted to get the points against the current leaders. We would have won had we taken our chances.”
Urawa has started the season strongly with another win on Sunday, 2-1 at Kashiwa Reysol in their league opener, but were dealt a blow in the 20th minute when Tomoaki Makino was adjudged to have blocked Son Jun Ho’s shot with his arm for a penalty. Son converted the opener, and could have fallen further behind after Won Jin Jung also had a shot saved.
Urawa was saved by the bar after the break and Son’s sending off in the 69th minute for two bookable offenses had them on the front foot. It looked to have found the equalizer when defender Daisuke Nasu headed a right-hand cross from a point-blank range but was somehow kept out by Shin Hwa Yong with three minutes remaining.
“We were able to play away as hoped, but the result is all that matters,” Makino said. “You could see our good play all over the pitch, but we lacked accuracy in shooting and passing. We’ll pay them back when they come to visit.