Shu Kurata’s brace kept Gamba Osaka’s hopes of defending their MEIJI YASUDA J1 League title alive, as the champions beat Vegalta Sendai 3-1 on Sunday.
Kenta Hasegawa’s side edged FC Tokyo, who lost 4-3 to Urawa Reds on Sunday, into third place in the overall league table with their result, putting them in contention for the post-season title championship.
Patric opened the scoring with a low shot after combining perfectly with partner-in-crime Takashi Usami, who had sat out Gamba’s AFC Champions League semi-final second leg against Guangzhou Evergrande on Wednesday.
Kurata then bagged his first of the afternoon when he fired home in the 36th minute, putting his team into the lead once more after Ramon Lopes had temporarily equalised.
With Gamba needing one more goal to secure the result, it was Kurata who again turned up in the right place at the right time, seizing upon a loose ball in the hosts box to smash beyond Yuji Rokutan.
The 26-year-old’s final strike was his fifth of the second stage alone, and ensures his team stay on course to defend their domestic Treble this season.