Sapporo – Veteran forward Kazuma Watanabe came off the bench to score the winner as Gamba Osaka beat Consadole Sapporo 1-0 in the J. League first division on Saturday, keeping a clean sheet for the first time since July 22.
The 34-year-old entered in the 74th minute and needed only four minutes to break the deadlock, poaching from close range after his header from Hiroki Fujiharu’s cross was pushed onto the post by Sapporo goalkeeper Takanori Sugeno.
“It was a good cross from Fujiharu and all I had to do was to get a touch on it. I’d like to have scored with the first attempt but I got lucky with the rebound,” said Watanabe.
It was the visitors who looked like scoring from the opening as defender Genta Miura sending a free header over the bar from meters out within a minute of the start. Striker Ademilson released Kosuke Onose inside the box in the 27th minute only to see his effort dragged wide from a tight angle on the right.
Another chance went begging for Gamba in the 33rd minute as former Bayern Munich man Takashi Usami failed to hit the target with a free header from nine meters out.
Daiki Suga had the first meaningful attempt at goal for the home side five minutes into the second half as he sneaked in behind the defense to receive a long ball, but dragged his left-footed effort wide from inside the box.
Yoshiaki Komai had a chance three minutes later after Jay Bothroyd controlled a floating pass with his chest and laid it off inside the box, but his tame effort was easily gathered up by Gamba keeper Masaaki Higashiguchi.
Consadole’s Brazilian substitute Douglas Oliveira made his presence felt up front with a handful of powerful dribbles but the visitors’ defense was well-marshaled by former Toulouse defender Gen Shoji, a late substitute, and former Leeds midfielder Yosuke Ideguchi.
In other J1 action, reigning champion Yokohama F. Marinos earned their second straight win, beating Sagan Tosu 3-1 at Ekimae Real Estate Stadium.
At Toyota Stadium, Mu Kanazaki netted a pair of penalties to lead Nagoya Grampus to a 2-1 victory over Vissel Kobe that leaves the Emperor’s Cup champion with just one win in their last 11 league games.
At Yanmar Stadium, Kashima Antlers beat second-place Cerezo Osaka 2-1 for their sixth win in a row. The result also ended the host’s win streak at six.
Shimizu S-Pulse snapped a seven-game losing streak and climbed off the bottom of the table with a 3-0 win against Shonan Bellmare, who dropped to last place.
Kashiwa Reysol and Sanfrecce Hiroshima finished their clash at Sankyo Frontier Stadium in a 1-1 deadlock.