Okubo pips Usami to seal enthralling Frontale victory

Okubo pips Usami to seal enthralling Frontale victory

Yoshito Okubo was instrumental for Kawasaki Frontale on Sunday as they emerged triumphant from a thrilling game against Gamba Osaka that finished 5-3.

Frontale set out to ensure their hosts would not settle and got the breakthrough inside two minutes when Yoshihiro Nakano’s delivery evaded everyone in the Gamba box before Okubo fired into an empty net.

Takashi Usami, Okubo’s main rival in this season’s MEIJI YASUDA J1 League goalscoring charts, then tried to respond for his team but sent an audacious lob wide of an empty net after meeting a clearance first-time, with Shota Arai stranded.

The Japanese champions did find a way back when Arai could only push Yasuhito Endo’s delivery into the path of Patric, who was left with an easy finish.

Kenta Hasegawa’s men would have been content to head into half time with the score level at 1-1 but Kengo Nakamura had other plans, conjuring up a goal out of nothing when he unleashed a shot from range that Masaaki Higashiguchi should have reacted faster to. 

Nakano then exploited hesitant defending after the break to burst through a crowd of Gamba players before driving in low to put his side 3-1 ahead, but still the visitors refused to give up.

The furious pace of the game continued as Patric got up at the other end to plant the ball into the net with a firm header from Endo’s corner, before Shu Kurata temporarily equalised when he met a quality cross with a first-time finish.

With the teams deadlocked, it was left to Okubo to decide the encounter, which he swung in favour of Frontale from the penalty spot after Koki Yonekura crudely halted Shintaro Kurumaya’s charge into the Gamba box.

Last term’s top scorer - who moves up to 21 goals this season and two clear of Usami in the scoring charts - then turned provider for Elsinho to seal an excellent result for their team.