East Asia Japan

No Winner in An Osaka Derby Devoid of Supporters

The latest edition of the Osaka Derby ends in stalemate as Cerezo Osaka and Gamba Osaka played out a 1-1 draw at the Nagai Stadium on Sunday’s J.League 1 action. Neither Osaka side could get any of the glory and bragging rights in Matchweek 12’s derby, played at an empty Nagai due to the increasing cases of COVID-19 within Japan.

Australian danger man Adam Taggart was named in Cerezo’s bench for the derby, having yet to make an appearance for the men in pink after his arrival from South Korean side Suwon Samsung Bluewings during the off-season. However, the Socceroo soon found himself being thrown into the thick of the action by Cerezo head coach Levir Culpi, replacing veteran striker Yoshito Okubo who limped off with a hamstring injury in the 23rd minute.

The match was a fiercely contested one, as expected of matches of such nature. Cerezo had a 5th minute Okubo goal being chalked off for offside, while Gamba had a disallowed goal of their own in the 13th minute, with another offside call being the reason behind the goal being chalked off. The two Osaka sides then exchanged blow after blow, before Cerezo were awarded a penalty in the 43rd minute following a video assistant referee (VAR) review on an incident involving Cerezo’s Yuta Toyokawa and Gamba’s Yuya Fukuda, with the latter being adjudged to have handled the former’s shot within the penalty area.

Unfortunately for Cerezo, Toyokawa’s penalty was met by the goalpost, despite Gamba goalkeeper Masaaki Higashiguchi timing his dive a couple of seconds too late.

Cerezo finally took the lead in the 73rd minute, after a dazzling passing game from the Cerezo attackers was capped off by Motohiko Nakajima performing an audacious lob from within the area into the top right corner of the goal, with the ball blazing above a diving Higashiguchi’s head before meeting it’s target.

That lead did not last long though as Gamba managed to win themselves their very own penalty in the 80th minute, after a shot from Gen Shoji was blocked by Mutsuki Kato’s hand inside the penalty area. Patric as the taker of the penalty did his job excellently, with his powerful shot leaving Kim Jin-hyeon well-beaten.

The scoreline remained level all the way into full-time, with the point allowing Cerezo to remain 6th while Gamba dropped down to 18th place. The men from Suita have a number of games in hand due to their COVID-related lockdown earlier in the season though, meaning that should Gamba win all of their backlogged games they will pull themselves away from relegation worries.

Meanwhile at the Showa Denko Dome, Oita Trinita managed to halt their 7-game losing streak by beating Shimizu S-Pulse 1-0, with Yamato Machida scoring his third goal in two games to seal all three points for the Turtles. Rounding off Sunday’s Matchweek 12 action was the goalless draw between Shonan Bellmare and Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo at the Shonan BMW Stadium Hiratsuka.

Matchweek 12 will conclude on Tuesday with 1st against 2nd as Kawasaki Frontale host Nagoya Grampus at the Todoroki Athletics Stadium.