Sanfrecce Hiroshima capitalised on Oh Jae-suk’s sending-off for Gamba Osaka to beat their rivals spectacularly in the J.League championship final first-leg, winning 3-2 in stoppage time.
The MEIJI YASUDA J1 League overall leaders, handed an automatic berth in the two-legged final by virtue of their points total came under pressure from the 2014 champions Gamba in the first half.
Kenta Hasegawa’s side, who triumphed 3-1 over Urawa Reds during the semi-final, then went ahead on the hour mark when Shun Nagasawa finished following a defensive mix-up between Kazuyuki Morisaki, Kazuhiko Chiba and Sho Sasaki.
Douglas then did well to fire home from a rebound to pull Sanfrecce level in the 80th minute, but barely had their celebrations finished when Yasuyuki Konno valleyed Gamba back in front from inside the area.
Oh’s dismissal five minutes after that then placed the home side on the ropes, allowing Sanfrecce to roar back through Sasaki’s perfectly-placed header beyond Masaaki Higashiguchi five minutes later.
Their comeback was complete when Yoshifumi Kashiwa netted emphatically after scrappy play inside the box, punishing Gamba for their inability to clear their lines and giving his side a priceless advantage for the title heading into Saturday’s second-leg.