Competition: J.League - Division 1
Date: Wednesday, 5th May 2010 (19:00 kick off)
Venue: Expo '70 Stadium
KUSUKAMI 74', 80', 90+1'
DF TERADA (yellow card 90+5')
MF TANIGUCHI (replaced by VITOR JUNIOR 62')
MF TASAKA (yellow card 25')
FW CHONG (replaced by KUSUKAMI 71')
Mixed emotions after this game. Ultimately, it was a wonderful show of resilience, with hat-trick hero Jumpei Kusukami the unexpected star of the show. But picking up points away from home has long been Frontale's achilles heel. And this was a badly wasted opportunity against a Gamba Osaka still struggling to find their feet this season.
It will come as little surprise that defence remains the key concern. Of Gamba's four goals, only the last could be described as unavoidable - Tomokazu Myojin's long-range effort taking a hefty deflection on its way past Eiji.
The defending for Gamba's opener wasn't great, but borders on forgivable. Mori isn't a natural right-back, so when one of his centre-backs is pulled out of position and he's required to tuck in, he can't really be expected to do the job properly. Yes, he allowed Takashi Usami to run onto Yasuhito Endo's cross unchallenged, but as far as I'm concerned that's just a peril of the formation Frontale choose to play. And he did atone for his mistake by drawing the sides level before the break.
Less excusable are the (now almost weekly) blunders from Shuhei Terada. For Gamba's second, the aging defender first displayed the turning circle of an eighteen-wheeler as Takahiro Futagawa jinked past him at the edge of the box. He then managed to recover just in time to divert Lucas's harmless flick back into Futagawa's path for the simplest of finishes.
Futagawa's goal was doubly painful, as Frontale had been well on top thus far in the second half. Their problems were then compounded when Yusuke Tasaka flapped wildly at an aimless Gamba clearance to send Lucas through on a one-on-one with Eiji.
So, having been much the better side since the interval, the visitors now found themselves 3-1 down - undone by their own incompetence.
But the introduction of Kusukami for the largely-anonymous Chong Tese proved a master-stroke from coach Takahata. Within 10 minutes of his arrival the youngster had pulled Frontale level again - first tapping in at the far post after good work from Komiyama down the left, and then steering a fine mid-range effort past Yosuke Fujigaya.
Myojin's fortuitous ricochet threatened to give Gamba all three points. But as the clock ticked over into injury time, Kusukami capitalised on a weak defensive header to bundle the ball into the back of the net and rescue a point.