Gamba scrape to lucky cup draw against plucky Grampus

Gamba scrape to lucky cup draw against plucky Grampus

Yamazaki Nabisco Cup holders Gamba Osaka were held to a nervy 1-1 draw by Nagoya Grampus in the quarter-finals of the tournament on Wednesday, surviving a scare late on.

Lins earned a rare start with Takashi Usami and Patric out of the side, and the Brazilian made an immediate impact when he assisted Takahiro Futagawa for the opener inside six minutes.

But Gamba’s bright start soon fizzled out and Grampus found themselves back level via Ryunosuke Noda’s 76th-minute header from Kisho Yano’s delivery.

The hosts nearly fumbled their lead later when Yano had the chance to hand the visitors a valuable first-leg advantage, but his shot from a tight angle skimmed the woodwork.

Kim Jung-ya was also spared the blushes by his own post when his touch came back off it, and Gamba will consider themselves lucky as they make their way to Paloma Mizuho Stadium for the return leg on Sunday with the score still finely poised.

At Ajinomoto Stadium, Yasushi Endo’s magnificent left-footed strike was unable to secure victory for Kashima Antlers, their clash with FC Tokyo ending 2-2 with honours even.

It was the capital outfit who got off to a better start as Hiroki Kawano looped a header past a helpless Hitoshi Sagahata in a first half that also had goals disallowed for either side.

Antlers responded right after the break with Shuhei Akasaki stab home from point-blank range before Endo saw his long-range strike go in off the post.

But they were denied the crucial first-leg advantage when Shoya Nakajima tucked away a precise first-time effort with two minutes left on the clock, leaving the encounter to be decided at Saitama Stadium this Saturday.