Vegalta Sendai ended their long wait for a win on Saturday as they comprehensively destroyed high-flying Gamba Osaka 4-0 away at the Panasonic Stadium Suita. The J.League 1 basement dwellers tore 2nd placed Gamba to pieces in their Matchweek 27 encounter on the back of a world-class performance from Shun Nagasawa, who bagged himself a hat-trick.
Having failed to win their last 17 J1 games – a wretched run started all the way back in August – Vegalta made the trip down to Osaka Prefecture to visit a Gamba side looking to cement themselves further in the J1’s runners-up spot. Many would expect Gamba to continue their excellent 12-match unbeaten run by giving Vegalta a good spanking, however what happened on Saturday was the exact opposite.
Former Gamba man Nagasawa returned to Suita with a mission to haunt his former employers and he did so in the 17th minute, seizing an excellent pass from former FC Barcelona graduate Isaac Cuenca with his first touch to slam the ball home past Gamba custodian Masaaki Higashiguchi.
Nagasawa then doubled Gamba’s lead just before half-time, with the 32-year old heading in a Takuma Hamasaki corner past Higashiguchi to give his team a healthy advantage coming into the break.
Gamba head coach Tsuneyasu Miyamoto threw in both Patric and Kosuke Onose into the mix during half-time in an attempt to chase the game, however it was Shu Kurata who managed to put the ball into Jakub Slowik’s net in the 62nd minute. However, much to the dismay of the Gamba camp, Kurata’s goal was flagged off as offside.
Vegalta then pretty much sealed up the three points in the 75th minute, with Takumi Sasaki crossing the ball into the box to allow Nagasawa to bag his hat-trick with a powerful header.
Substitute Takahiro Yanagi then placed the icing on Vegalta’s long-awaited win by rifling in a shot past Higashiguchi in the closing minutes of the match – the 23-year old’s first J1 goal of his career.
Saturday’s Matchweek 27 also saw an eight-goal thriller at the Nissan Stadium, with defending champions Yokohama F. Marinos thrashing Urawa Red Diamonds 6-2 in a match that saw Yokohama’s Junior Santos bagging himself a hat-trick. Yokohama’s city rivals Yokohama FC played out a 1-1 draw away at Sanfrecce Hiroshima, with Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo and Sagan Tosu sharing the spoils as well in a 1-1 draw of their own at the Sapporo Dome. Gamba’s city rivals Cerezo Osaka succumbed to a 3-1 defeat away at Shimizu S-Pulse, while last but not least Kashima Antlers battled their way to a 1-1 draw with runaway league leaders Kawasaki Frontale at the Kashima Soccer Stadium, the hosts finishing the match with 10 men following Kento Misao’s last-minute red card.
Matchweek 27 continues on Sunday with Vissel Kobe hosting Shonan Bellmare in the early kick-off and Nagoya Grampus welcoming FC Tokyo to the Toyota Stadium in the evening.