Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Yasuhito Endo carries Gamba Osaka to victory

After taking a 1-0 lead into the half the Urawa Red Diamonds were upset 3-1 by Gamba Osaka at Saitama Stadium. This catapults Gamba into the final against Adelaide United of the A-League in the finals of the AFC Champions League.

The Red Diamonds started fast on the attack with Nobuhisa Yamada nearly giving them the lead eighteen minutes into the match. Moments later Marcus Tulio Tanaka nearly created the first goal with Edmilson pushing the ball wide. The attack continued Naohiro Takahara's drive blocked by Gamba defender Sota Nakazawa. On the ensuing corner Gamba 'keeper Yosuke Fujigaya was called upon to save Yuki Abe stunning overhead kick. With pressure constant but without fruition, Urawa finally broke through with Naohiro Takahara goal at the thirty-six minute mark. He nearly doubled the advantage two minutes before the break with a drive from outside the area but it clanged off the crossbar and after numerous chances Urawa went to the half with a slim one goal margin.

After the break Akira Nishino's Gamba came out with intent and six minutes into the half Satoshi Yamaguchi headed-on Blue Samurai Yasuhito Endo's corner to bring the match level. With twenty-seven minutes remaining Yasuhito Endo's play continued to dominate as his corner was redirected in by Tomokazu Myojin.
To complete Yasuhito's perfect day, three minutes later he added the third goal himself, driving a ball to the back of the net from the left penalty area.

Gamba Osaka manager Akira Nishino commented after the match:

"It was a superb game. I’m very glad we won and I want to praise my players for the fight they showed today."

"In the first half we were under very high pressure, but we resisted that well and we knew we had to score."

"At half-time the situation hadn’t changed, we still needed to score two goals to go through, so everybody went out to score."

"Reds dropped their heads after we went ahead and I think we won the mental battle."

"We played this game from the start aiming for two goals and the game went according to plan and I’m extremely pleased with that."

"After we scored the away goal, Reds really were very down. We had the aggressiveness and the awareness to be decisive. In the decisive moments in the match, we went on top."

On Yasuhito Endo he added:

"I can’t quite measure him. His way of carrying himself in a game shows extremely high qualities.

A disappointed Urawa Red Diamond manager Gert Engels said after the match:

"It’s a very painful result. Congratulations to Gamba, it’s very good for Japanese football to have a Japanese team in the final but I wanted it to be us."

"In the first half we pressed well, played very good football and switched a lot. We had Yamada’s shot, Taka’s goal and Taka also hit the crossbar; it was very good, fast football."

"In the second half we knew we couldn’t just defend but in the end we lost those two goals through set plays. It was not the content of the match but set plays and always, in any game, that hurts the most."

"Because of the away goals we had to get two goals. We had to get two more and we lost the third goal on the counterattack.

"Three-one was a very big gap. We had to play with pride but we couldn’t make a miracle happen. The result was the worst one possible for us but the performance at times, and on average, was pretty good."

"We lost our rhythm at the start of the second half. We did get too negative but it was a problem that would have solved itself within 10 minutes."

"But the goal came at the wrong time. Another few minutes at 1-0 and it would have corrected itself, but that’s football."