Group H: Gamba Osaka – Jiangsu Suning

Both visiting group leaders, Jiangsu Suning, as well as third place, Gamba Osaka, started with three central defenders, three central midfielders and two strikers, home team manager, Kenta Hasegawa, however played a more traditional 5-man midfield, while his opposing colleague, Choi Yong-Soo, chose wing-back options on the flanks. Interestingly enough, both teams played only two non-asians player, all Brazilian of course, with Fabio Aguiar and Ademilson starting for the hosts and Ramires and Alex Teixera in the Jiangsu line-up. Gamba played came out with a calm and collected approach to the match, building play from the back three, whereas the visiting side set their players up from the half way line and had their forwards, midfield and wing-backs apply pressure from there. The plan looked like winning the ball early on their own half and rely on quick counter attacks. The guests looked more comfortable on the ball och succeeded in raising the tempo at every opportunity. Teixeira won the ball and made his way past a defender into the box after only two minutes, he was subsequently pulled down from behind but the referee waved play on from what looked like a clear cut penalty call. Otherwise, both teams struggled to get into the attacking third of the pitch with the ball under control and any form of organised play was confined to the middle part of the pitch, with the Japanese hosts keeping almost 70 % of possession. The home side created their first real chance when Yasuyuki Konno hit the post with a nicely taken volley from a high cross from Ademilson at 36 minutes. 3 minutes on, Jiangsu put toghether their best attack of the match when Teixeira gave the ball to Ramires who sent it to Ji Xiang at the end of the box, got it right back and curled it into the top corner with a beautiful left footed effort to make it 1-0 from about 25 metres out. That was about it from a well organised, but not very entertaining, first half.

No changes where made at the break but Gamba moved their team higher up the pitch right at kick-off in search of the equaliser. Either that or Jiangsu fell even further back to defend their lead. Or maybe a little bit of both. Anyhow, the Japanese took command in a completely different manor than in the first half, there wasn’t much room to improve the 68 % possession but the tempo fel about twice as high, and also started sending some long balls past their midfield up to Ademilson and Shun Nagasawa up front. Jiangsu were not to be intimidated and looked even more confident in their positions which caused the effort to quiet down after about 20 minutes of play. With just over 15 minutes to go the home team had their appeal for a penalty as Liu Jianye blocked a shot with his arm, however the replay showed the referee was right only to give a free kick as the contact was made outside the penalty area. The following free kick went straight into the wall and led to a counter attack in which Jiangsu came 3-against-2 and Ramires found Wu Xi who, despite doing everything righ in making his space, sent the ball over the keeper, rushing out with no timing whatsoever, but wide of the goal.
Ramires got booked after a clumsy interference, putting his hand in the face of the opponent, after 80 minues. Once again, the free-kick resulted in Ramires orchestrating the counter attack but this time it was Teixeiras turn to waste a golden opportunity, putting the ball well wide after being put clear by his countryman. Towards the end, 2-0 looked more likely than 1-1, it was neither as Jiangsu secured their third consecutive one-goal win.

In Australia, Adeleide United, finally got the goals going for themselves, as well the rest of the Aussie sides, with 3 goals against Korean side Jeju United. The total tally for Australia in the campaign was 2 goals from 7 games ahead of the evening but ufortunately for the home team, Jeju also managed to get three goals in. Adelaide got the first one but then were forced to equalise twice to get their first, and Australias second point in total. Jeju are now up to 4 points, passing Gamba on 3 but 5 behind Jiangsu.

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