AFC Champions League: Group E Matchday Six Round-up and Results

(Highlights of the 2-0 victory versus Gamba Osaka which gave Adelaide United a home berth in the Round of 16. United will meet Group G runners-up Nagoya Grampus on 29 May in the one-off elimination match)

Having seen their interest in the 2012 AFC Champions League end following their 2-0 defeat at the Pohang Steel Yard on Matchday Five, Gamba Osaka entertained Adelaide United at the Osaka Expo ’70 Stadium with little more than their pride to play for.

Manager Masanobu Matsunami chose to field a young, experimental side in front of a crowd numbering little more than 7,000. Unfortunately for Gamba the changes failed to enliven a team which has suffered across all competitions in 2012, and they crashed to their fifth defeat in six group matches, conceding twice in the second half including an Akihiro Sato own goal while failing to score any in reply.

With the Suita side’s J.League campaign floundering it seems likely that Gamba will not appear in the 2013 tournament, and Matsunami now must endure what is likely to be a very difficult Matchday Twelve fixture against a revitalised Yokohama F-Marinos at the Nissan Stadium.

Adelaide United, who needed to take all three points to be assured of topping Group E, will host Nagoya Grampus at the Hindmarch Stadium on 29 May for a place in the quarter-finals.

Group E

Gamba Osaka Small Gamba Osaka 0 Adelaide United
Van Dijk 65′
Sato 87′ (O.G.)
FC Bunyodkor
Gafurov 48′
1 Pohang Steelers 0
Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Adelaide United 6 4 1 1 7 2 +5 13
2 Bunyodkor 6 3 1 2 8 7 +1 10
3 Pohang Steelers 6 3 0 3 6 4 +2 9
4 Gamba Osaka 6 1 0 5 5 13 -8 3

AFC Champions League: Group E Matchday Five Round-up and Result

(Pohang Steelers’ Kim Jin-Yong scores in first half stoppage time to give his side a 1-0 lead in their AFC Champions League Group E Matchday Five tie against Gamba Osaka. The Steelers would go on to win 2-0, a result which dumped Gamba out of the tournament)

Gamba Osaka crashed out of the AFC Champions League as they were defeated 2-0 at the Pohang Steel Yard, in a tie they needed to win if they were to maintain any hope of qualifying for the latter stages of this year’s competition. Three points in five matches for Masanobu Matsunami’s men is a sorry return for the 2008 champions, and they now face a dead rubber on 16 May against group leaders Adelaide United in which to salvage some pride.

Regular Gamba Osaka goalkeeper Yusuke Fujigawa was named only to the bench following his abject performance in the heavy defeat to Kashima Antlers at the weekend, and Atsushi Kimura proved a more than capable replacement, producing two outstanding saves to keep this fixture scoreless until first half stoppage time. Superb reactions prevented Derek Asamoah from finding the net after he had struck a fierce volley destined for the left corner from twelve yards, and when the official had awarded the home side a penalty in judging Yasuyuki Konno to have felled Asamoah in the 18-yard box, he repelled Zoran Rendulic’s spot-kick. It was Kimura’s misfortune that another fine stop didn’t prevent the Steelers taking a 1-0 lead into the interval. A lovely piece of improvisation from Lee Myung-Joo saw him flick the ball over Tomokazu Myojin, before striking a left-footed volley which the reserve Gamba goalkeeper stopped smartly. However, his parry only took the ball to the edge of the six yard area, and Kim Jin-Ryong reacted first to slot home from close range.

Things could have been so different for the Suita side had Akihiro Sato’s chip not found the wrong side of the upright, the forward holding his head in his hands having beaten Steelers’ goalkeeper Shin Hwa-Yong from 20 yards but seeing the ball bounce off the post for a goal kick. A thunderous 78th strike from Asamoah, who had seen a long-distance effort well-saved by Kimura earlier in the second period, ended the tie and Gamba’s involvement in the competition, and in languishing in sixteenth place in the J.League, their main hope of qualification for the 2013 tournament would appear to rest in clinching the Emperor’s Cup.

Group E

Pohang Steelers
Kim Jin-Yong 45’+1
Asamoah 78′
2 Gamba Osaka 0
Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Adelaide United 5 3 1 1 5 2 +3 10
2 Pohang Steelers 5 3 0 2 6 3 +3 9
3 Bunyodkor 5 2 1 2 7 7 +0 7
4 Gamba Osaka 5 1 0 4 5 11 -6 3

AFC Champions League: Group E Matchday Four Table

(Highlights of Bunyodkor’s 3-2 win against Gamba Osaka in the AFC Champions League Group E tie held 18 April)

Group E

Position Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Adelaide United 4 3 0 1 5 2 +3 9
2 Bunyodkor 4 2 0 2 7 7 +0 6
3 Pohang Steelers 4 2 0 2 4 3 +1 6
4 Gamba Osaka 4 1 0 3 5 9 -4 3

AFC Champions League: Group E Matchday Four Round-up and Result

Shu Kurata (14) and Luftalla Turaev (13) battle for the ball in the 2012 AFC Champions League Group E fixture between Bunyodkor and Gamba Osaka. The Uzbekistan side won the 18 April tie 3-2 in Tashkent (Image courtesy of the AFC)

Gamba Osaka will be eliminated at the group stage of the AFC Champions League for the first time since 2006 if they fail to defeat Pohang Steelers on Matchday Five, as they slumped to a 3-2 loss against Uzbeskistan’s Bunyodkor in Tashkent which leaves the Osaka giants at the bottom of Group E on three points.

Kamoliddin Murzoev put the reigning Uzbek League champions ahead on 15 minutes, the forward slipping away from defender Sota Nakazawa all too easily to head home a sweeping Victor Karpenko cross from the Bunyodkor right. The Swallows’ were pegged back five minutes later, a fierce twenty-yard drive from the left edge of the penalty area whistling past the dive of Ignatiy Nesterov after good work from Takahiro Futagawa, and then only the woodwork first prevented Futagawa from giving Gamba the lead after he saw his sliding shot strike the underside of the crossbar and bounce away, followed by Hayato Sasaki finding the outside of the post with Nesterov well-beaten.

Instead it would be the home side who regained the advantage two minutes before the interval. Emil Kenzhissariyev crossed from the left, and with Yasuyuki Konno failing to make even the barest of challenges, Lutfulla Turaev placed a looping header over Yosuke Fujigaya into the bottom left corner. Gamba pressed for an equaliser in an open second period, but substitute Anvarjon Soliev would give Bunyodkor some breathing space with six minutes of normal time remaining, racing on to a long ball from Karpenko having beaten the offside trap and rolling the ball past Fujigaya into the net.

There was just time for Shinichi Terada to add a second for the visitors. Paulinho’s initial corner was returned to him, and his second cross found the head of the substitute who made no mistake with a glancing header from six yards. The goal would be the last action of the match, however, and the result in Uzbekistan means that a season which was expected to be full of riches now shows little promise. Manager Masanobu Matsunami tried to put a positive spin on the match, saying:

It was a difficult game for us and unfortunately we lost. But I am proud of the players as they battled until the last second of the match … We played well, but we did not have any luck. Now we are in last place in the group and it will be very difficult for us, but we will fight to the end. A loss to Bunyodkor does not mean that everything is over for us.

Gamba, however, travel to the Pohang Steel Yard for the fixture against the 2011 K-League Runners-up on 2 May, and will do very well to come away with the victory that will provide a stay of execution until the final round of matches, against a side which defeated them 3-0 at the Osaka Expo ’70 Stadium on Matchday One.

Group E

Murzoev 15′
Turaev 43′
Soliev 85′
3 Gamba Osaka
Kurata 20′
Abe 90’+3′

AFC Champions League: Matchday Three Tables

(All the goals from Gamba Osaka versus Bunyodkor in the AFC Champions League Group E match played 3 April 2012. Gamba ran out 3-1 winners in their first victory of the season in all competitions)

Group E

Position Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Pohang Steelers 3 2 0 1 4 2 +2 6
2 Adelaide United 3 2 0 1 4 2 +2 6
3 Gamba Osaka 3 1 0 2 3 6 -3 3
4 Bunyodkor 3 1 0 2 4 5 -1 3

Group G

Position Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Nagoya Grampus 3 1 2 0 6 3 +3 5
2 Seongnam Il. Ch. 3 0 3 0 4 4 +0 3
3 C. Coast Mariners 3 0 3 0 2 2 +0 3
4 Tianjin Teda 3 0 2 1 1 4 -3 2

AFC Champions League: Matchday Three Round-up and Results

Rafinha (9) is saluted by teammates Hisato Sato (20) and Shinichi Terada (13, Obscured) after scoring the first of his two penalties in Gamba Osaka's 3-1 AFC Champions League victory over Uzbekistan's Bunyodkor on 3 April. This was Gamba's first win of the season in any competition, and leaves the team in third place in Group E with three matches remaining (Image courtesy AFP)

The first victory of an otherwise miserable season for Gamba Osaka was obtained in wet and windy conditions at the Osaka Expo ’70 Stadium, a 3-1 victory for the home side putting Gamba third in Group E at the halfway stage of the 2012 AFC Champions League group stage. A stunning strike from Yasuhito Endo inside the first quarter of an hour gave Gamba Osaka the lead, and it was one they would further extend with two Rafinha goals in the second half, Anvarjon Soliev pulling one back for the visitors with less than a minute to play. Endo, the 32 year-old midfielder, intercepted a misdirected Anvar Gafurov pass on the Bunyodkor right, and playing a one-two with Rafinha on the edge of the penalty area he placed an exquisite curling shot from 22 yards past Ignatiy Nesterov’s dive into the bottom left-hand corner.

Manager Masanobu Matsunami had made clear in the pre-match build-up that he was seeking all three points available from this tie, and Rafinha gave Gamba a well-deserved cushion with the first of his two spot kicks on 58 minutes. Rafinha attempted to lob a pass for Shu Karata, and Hayrulla Karimov evidently handled leaving referee Chaiya Mahapab no choice but to signal for a penalty. Rafinha calmly stroked home, sending the ball into the bottom right with Nesterov diving the wrong way.

On 82 minutes substitute Hayato Sasaki made a driving run into Bunyodkor’s penalty area. Salomov Shavkat stepped in to win the first challenge, but Akihiro Sato ran on to collect the loose ball and Shavkat’s outstretched leg was enough to send Sato tumbling. Rafinha looked to put the fixture beyond doubt, but this time Nesterov predicted correctly, diving to his right to make an excellent save. However, the referee ordered the penalty to be re-taken after spotting encroachment from Bunyodkor players, and this time Rafhina made no mistake, blasting his shot down the middle of the goal.

There was just time for Bunyodkor to reduce the deficit, a long pass from near halfway by Victor Karpenko flicked into an empty net by Anvarjon Soliev, beating Gamba goalkeeper Yosuke Fujigaya to the ball after he had unwisely chosen to attempt a punch.

Matsunami was inevitably pleased with the performance, saying:

I am happy with my first win as manager, and this was brought by a team effort.

“This victory gives us three points, which means a lot to us as our group is pretty even and competitive.

“We will play away in Uzbekistan next and that could be a tough game for us. But we won’t rest on this victory but make a step forward to play well in the AFC Champions League and the J.League.

Group E

Gamba Osaka
Endo 14′
Rafinha 58′ (pen.)
Rafinha 82′ (pen.)
3 Bunyodkor
Soliev 8”

Nagoya Grampus moved to the top of Group G with an emphatic 3-0 win away to China’s Tianjin Teda. Grampus nearly took the lead in the opening minutes of the match, Danilson spotting an excellent run from Keiji Tamada, who took one touch before slamming his shot against the crossbar with goalkeeper Song Zhenyu well beaten. The Nagoya giants only had to wait until midway through the first period to make their mark, however, midfielder Jungo Fujimoto receiving a quick pass on the left-hand side of the penalty area, and dummying defender Li Weifeng, proceeded to place a delightful chip into the bottom right corner of the goal past a hastily backtracking but stranded Zhenyu.

Teda did find the net in the first half, Wang Xinxin collecting a ball to the right of the Grampus 18-yard box before drawing inside and shooting left-footed. Mao Biao controlled and dispatched a shot beyond Seigo Narazaki, but was correctly flagged offside and the goal was disallowed.

Four minutes after the restart Keiji Tamada scored the second for Grampus with another excellent finish. Danilson played a pass out to the right wing for Mu Kanazaki, who crossed to Tamada. The 31 year-old controlled on his chest before volleying expertly with his left foot into the right corner past a stunned Zhenyu.

With 17 minutes left Kensuke Nagai wrapped up proceedings for the visitors. Teda were visibly tiring, and Nagai collected a throughball just outside the penalty area, before slotting a low finish into the bottom left corner. Grampus are two points clear with three matches remaining, and will take some comfort knowing that two games are to be played at the Mizuho Athletic Stadium.

Group G

Tianjin Teda
0 Nagoya Grampus
Fujimoto 24′
Tamada 49′
Nagai 73′

(Matches played 3 April 2012. FC Tokyo and Kashiwa Reysol play their respective Group F and H games on 4 April 2012)

AFC Champions League: Matchday Two Tables

(Leandro Domingues scored his second and Kashiwa Reysol’s third goal with a perfectly judged lob from the edge of the penalty area, in their 5-1 thrashing of South Korea’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in Wednesday’s Group H AFC Champions League match)

Group E

Position Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Adelaide United 2 2 0 0 4 1 +3 6
2 FC Bunyodkor 2 1 0 1 3 2 +1 3
3 Pohang Steelers 2 1 0 1 3 2 +1 3
4 Gamba Osaka 2 0 0 2 0 5 -5 0

Group F

Position Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 FC Tokyo 2 1 1 0 4 2 +2 4
2 Ulsan Hyundai 2 1 1 0 4 3 +1 4
3 Beijing Guoan 2 0 1 1 2 3 -1 1
4 Brisbane Roar 2 0 1 1 1 3 -2 1

Group G

Position Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma 2 0 2 0 3 3 +0 2
2 Nagoya Grampus 2 0 2 0 3 3 +0 2
3 Central Coast Mariners 2 0 2 0 1 1 +0 2
4 Tianjin Teda 2 0 2 0 1 1 +0 2

Group H

Position Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Buriram United 2 2 0 0 5 3 +2 6
2 Guangzhou Evergrande 2 1 0 1 6 3 +3 3
3 Kashiwa Reysol 2 1 0 1 7 4 +3 3
4 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 2 0 0 2 2 10 -8 0