SUITA, OSAKA PREF. – Gamba Osaka allowed Urawa Reds to snatch a point at the death as the J. League’s heavyweights shared the points in a 1-1 draw on Sunday ahead of the international break.
Yasuyuki Konno thought he was the match-winner after pushing Gamba in front with a diving header in the 57th minute, but Shu Kurata was whistled for a handball in the 92nd minute while turning away from a shot by Tomoya Ugajin.
Rafael Silva converted the penalty for Urawa, which had to settle for a point despite dominating 58 percent of the ball and outshooting Gamba 16 to 4.
Konno’s goal was the only shot on target for the hosts, who improved slightly to eight points, four points off the pace of Vissel Kobe. Reds are on seven points.
Gamba manager Kenta Hasegawa did not seem particularly convinced by referee Yuichi Nishimura’s decision to award the visitors the penalty.
“We seem to be around a lot of penalties like this one lately, but the ref was right there so it must be the correct decision,” Hasegawa said.
“It’s been tough for us with the tight fixtures these last seven games. I hope we can start fresh once we come out of the break.”
Hasegawa also had to endure the loss of yet another goalkeeper. Yosuke Fujigaya, filling in for injured first-choice Masaaki Higashiguchi (broken cheekbone), hobbled off midway through the second half and had to be replaced by third-choice Ken Tajiri.
No details were immediately offered on Fujigaya’s status.
“It was Ken’s first game of the season, but he’s been putting in the work in training,” Hasegawa said of Tajiri. “I had confidence in him.”
Ugajin felt Reds should have scored more given their time on the ball, but could live with a point away to Gamba.
“I thought both teams showed their class, but they capitalized on the one chance they had and we controlled the game but couldn’t score,” Ugajin said. “I don’t know what that says about us, but I’m happy we were able to take a point from here.”