Adelaide United maintained their aspirations of reaching the last 16 following a thrilling 3-3 draw with Gamba Osaka in Group H of the AFC Champions League on Tuesday night.
Shun Nagasawa and Ritsu Doan gave the hosts a two-goal buffer inside the opening 15 minutes, however Sergio Cirio struck prior to the break.
Jordan O’Doherty restored parity with a sumptuous screamer which arrowed into the top corner, though Gamba would re-take the lead in somewhat contentious circumstances.
Baba Diawara would have the final say though, with his second of the tournament, rescuing a vital point courtesy of a glancing header in the 92nd minute.
There were three enforced changes made to starting XI from the win over Jeju United on matchday four by Head Coach, Guillermo Amor. With Dylan McGowan and Taylor Regan missing through suspension, Michael Marrone partnered Ben Warland, while Mark Ochieng was deployed at right-back in a makeshift back-four. Meanwhile, Jordan O’Doherty replaced Riley McGree in midfield.
The Reds began proceedings on the back foot and fell behind inside six minutes from a corner. Yasuhito Endo’s in-swinging ball was headed home at the near post by Nagasawa to beat the onrushing Eugene Galekovic.
Ritsu Doan was threatening throughout the first half and showed why he is a precocious talent, after catching Galekovic off-guard on the wing with a stunning drive to make it 2-0.
Gamba’s intensity abated after scoring a second goal with Adelaide grabbing the ascendency.
The visitors began to make several incursions into the area, while also dominating possession and winning the second balls.
And Amor’s men would be rewarded for their endeavours, as Cirio pulled a goal back for United with a clinical side-footed finish approaching the interval.
Baba Diawara capitalised on Kim Jung-ya’s slip before squaring the ball to the Spaniard, who checked his run to consummately slot the ball into the bottom left corner.
Adelaide began the second stanza where they had left off from the end of the first period. The Reds illustrated more intent and promise going forward with Diawara and Nikola Mileusnic causing all sorts of issues for the Osaka defence.
In the 54th minute, the South Australians equalised in emphatic fashion thanks to a mesmerising strike outside the 18-yard box from O’Doherty. Diawara teed up the 19-year-old, whose venomous hit eluded Masaaki Higashiguchi – smashing into the top far corner.
With the game all square, Gamba sought to lift their tempo, yet Adelaide’s temporary defensive unit remained up to the task.
But Kenta Hasegawa’s side made it 3-2 on 77 minutes, when a low cross inadvertently deflected off Marrone and past the helpless Galekovic, while Diawara was down.
However, the understrength Reds displayed immense resilience to claw their way back into the match. Garuccio delivered a pin-point free-kick allowing Diawara to score a sensational looping header in stoppage time and salvage a point.
It capped off a wonderful outing for the Senegalese forward who finished with a goal and two assists on the night.
Tuesday, 25 April 2017
AFC Champions League Group H – Matchday five
Gamba Osaka 3 (Nagasawa 6’ Doan 13’ Marrone 77’ OG)
Adelaide United 3 (Cirio 43’ O’Doherty 54’ Diawara 90’)
Venue: Suita City Football Stadium