Gamba off to winning start in Asian Champions League

Kyodo

Gamba Osaka kicked off its Asian Champions League campaign in style as the 2008 winner beat Adelaide United 3-0 away in Group H on Wednesday night

Gamba took the lead through Shun Nagasawa’s header at Hindmarsh Stadium and Yasuyuki Konno crashed in the second before a late own goal from Adelaide defender Dylan McGowan sealed victory for Kenta Hasegawa’s men in a rematch of the 2008 final.

“To take three points away from home is a massive result,” said Hasegawa. “More than any other team we are determined to win the ACL one more time.”

Gamba looked lively early on and went close to breaking the deadlock after 19 minutes, when Shu Kurata took a return pass from Konno and drilled off the legs of Adelaide goalkeeper John Hall.

Hasegawa’s men made the breakthrough soon after though, Nagasawa scoring with a towering header after getting on the end of a pinpoint cross from the right wing by South Korean defender Oh Jae-suk.

Goalkeeper Masaaki Higashiguchi helped protect Gamba’s lead when he denied Ben Garuccio with a key block in the 39th minute and the visitors extended their lead on the stroke of halftime.

Hall could only parry a cross from the left by Ademilson and after Yosuke Ideguchi’s shot cannoned off Tarek Elrich, Konno snapped up the loose ball to fire in off the underside of the crossbar.

Adelaide tried to force their way back into the game but Jordan O’Doherty blazed a decent chance over the bar midway through the second half and that miss should have been punished when Genta Miura fired at Hall at the near post moments later.

But the game was over as a contest with nine minutes left as McGowan turned into his own net after Miura had flicked on Yasuhito Endo’s free kick.

Kawasaki Frontale drew 1-1 at home against South Korea’s Suwon Bluewings in Group G. Yu Kobayashi opened the scoring from close range in the 11th minute but Frontale defender Shogo Taniguchi turned into his own net in the 23rd to hand Suwon a point.

J. League champions Kashima Antlers and 2007 ACL champions Urawa Reds both got off to winning starts on Tuesday.

Urawa romped to a 4-0 win away to Western Sydney Wanderers in Group F while Kashima registered a 2-0 win at home to South Korea’s Ulsan Hyundai in Group E.

Gamba were the last Japanese team to win the continental title in 2008.