Adelaide United began their 2017 AFC Champions League Group H opener with a 0-3 loss against Japanese outfit Gamba Osaka at Hindmarsh Stadium on Wednesday night.
Shun Nagasawa and Yasuyuki Konno and an own goal from Dylan McGowan saw Gamba kick-start matchday one with a victory.
Head Coach, Guillermo Amor, handed Kim Jae-sung his starting Reds debut, while Ben Garuccio featured on the wing. With Spaniard Isaias absent through injury, Riley McGree was deployed at the base of the midfield in front of an unchanged back four.
The Reds started on the back foot in the opening couple of minutes, with the back four remaining resolute. Michael Marrone committed a timely sliding challenge to thwart an ominous looking Gamba attack, while Taylor Regan ensured Ademilson had little influence on proceedings.
John Hall was forced into action on 19 minutes, after Shu Kurata unleashed a stinging effort from close range.
But In the 21st minute, Adelaide’s resistance would be breached as Gamba opened the scoring when Nagasawa connected with Jaesuk Oh’s pin-point delivery. The forward leaped highest to expertly guide his header past Hall from six yards out.
Following the concession, United responded well as the likes of Garuccio and Elrich began to run at the Osaka-based club’s defence.
Nikola Mileusnic was also lively during the first period. And six minutes before half-time a sensational pass from the winger picked out Garuccio, with his near post effort almost creeping beyond gloveman Masaaki Higashiguchi.
Although, Adelaide looked close to equalising, the Reds would concede again.
On the stroke of half-time, the visitors’ doubled their lead. Hiroki Fujiharu’s initial shot was blocked by Tarek Elrich, before ricocheting into the path of Konno whose follow up attempt clipped the underside of the upright.
In the second-half, the Reds dominated possession for large parts, as Gamba decided to sit back, absorb pressure and threaten on the counter-attack.
Baba Diawara was summoned from the bench to make his United debut, but had no real opportunity to test Gamba’s shot-stopper.
Gamba would seal the three points when a venomous cross into the box unluckily struck a helpless McGowan who inadvertently directed the ball into his own net.
Following the match, Amor admitted Gamba’s experience and ability to pick their moments was the difference between the two sides.
“They’re (Gamba) a strong team, we know they’re a big team,” Amor said.
“We (as a team) spoke yesterday that they’re always in the Champions League and they’ve good players.
“The experience is very important in this competition, big clubs control the games and control the situation, and the big teams normally have this (trait).”
Wednesday, 22 February 2017
AFC Champions League Group H – Matchday One
Adelaide United 0
Gamba Osaka 3 (Nagasawa 21’ Konno 45’+1’ McGowan OG 81’)
Venue: Hindmarsh Stadium