SUITA, OSAKA PREF. - Gamba Osaka crashed out of the Asian Champions League in the first round on Tuesday after a 2-1 defeat at home to South Korea’s Suwon Samsung Bluewings.
Gamba striker Takashi Usami missed a twice-taken penalty and Santos gave Suwon the lead early in the second half before the Brazilian striker converted from the spot to complete his brace in the 57th minute. Yasuyuki Konno replied with a late consolation for Gamba.
Gamba, the 2008 champions and semifinalists last season, have yet to win and have just two points at the bottom of Group G with one game left.
“Lots of fans came out to support us and I feel bad for them that it is all over in the group stage,” said Gamba manager Kenta Hasegawa.
“The players came into the game determined to somehow qualify (for the knockout stage) but that determination did not produce a result. This season’s ACL has been disappointing.”
Suwon had the better of the first half at Suita Stadium, with Santos sending a free kick over the bar and Kwon Chang-hoon seeing his 21st-minute effort deflected away by Gamba defender Kim Jung-ya for a corner.
Gamba went close just before the half-hour mark, Ademilson setting up Jungo Fujimoto, whose shot was charged down by Yang Sang-min.
But Usami missed a golden chance to put the hosts in front from the penalty spot after Yeom Ki-hun had fouled Daiki Niwa.
The Japan striker had his kick saved by No Dong-geon but was given a second bite at the cherry, referee Ali Hasan Ebrahim Abdulnabi ordering a retake because No had advanced off his line before the shot was taken.
Usami switched sides but No guessed correctly, the Suwon goalkeeper this time diving to his left to gather the shot.
Suwon punished that miss by taking lead four minutes into the second half, Santos burying his shot after Kim Gun-hee had flicked on Yeom’s pass.
Suwon was then awarded a penalty of its own after Konno had handled in the box and Santos made no mistake, sending Gamba ‘keeper Masaaki Higashiguchi the wrong way from the spot.
Usami missed another chance to hit the target when he sent a free header wide in the 73rd minute and Fujimoto’s free kick forced a great save from No before Konno pulled one back, volleying home after Patric had headed on Fujimoto’s cross.
Reigning J. League champion Sanfrecce Hiroshima play China’s Shandong Luneng away in a later match in Group F.
In Wednesday’s matches involving Japanese clubs, Urawa Reds are away to Group H leader Sydney FC, while FC Tokyo entertains South Korea’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in Group E.