Gamba Spoils Vissel’s Qatar Preparations with Hanshin Derby Win

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Another set of rescheduled J.League 1 matches were played out on Wednesday as Japan's representatives in the 2020 AFC Champions League - Yokohama F. Marinos, Vissel Kobe, and FC Tokyo - continue their preparations for their trip to Qatar later this month, where the resumption of this year's ACL will be held. However, for Yokohama and Vissel, their preparations don't exactly came up to plan as they were defeated 1-0 by their respective opponents - Shonan Bellmare and Gamba Osaka. FC Tokyo, on the other hand, made good use of their ACL prep by beating Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo 1-0 at the Ajinomoto Stadium.

Vissel made the short trip down the Meishin Expressway from Kobe to Suita in Osaka Prefecture, taking on hosts Gamba Osaka at their Panasonic Stadium Suita. The latest edition of the Hanshin Derby saw Gamba flying straight out of the traps after kick-off, determined to keep their hopes for a top two finish alive with league leaders Kawasaki Frontale seemingly destined for this year's J1 title.

Daiya Maekawa was called into action for Vissel after just 15 minutes, safeguarding his team's goal from Kosuke Onose's header. However, Maekawa was unable to protect his goal in the 27th minute, with Gamba's Patric capping off a dangerous counterattack from his team to give the hosts the lead. Brazilian Patric worked together excellently with Takashi Usami in the build-up towards Gamba's opener, with the former unleashing a powerful shot that took a deflection en route to Maekawa's goal.

With Gamba having the advantage, Vissel pushed forward for an equalizer and the men from Hyogo Prefecture thought that they had drawn level in the 43rd minute through Leo Osaki's tap-in...only for the goal to be chalked-off for offside.

The second stanza saw Gamba going straight for the offensive right away once again as they chased for a second goal, only for Maekawa to show off some heroics by denying Usami in the 48th minute and once again preventing Onose from scoring in the 54th minute.

The introduction of Andres Iniesta after the hour-mark sparked Vissel's attacking creativity into life, with the Spain legend sending a sublime through ball towards substitute Noriaki Fujimoto in the closing stages of the match. Unfortunately the former Oita Trinita man missed his mark as Vissel were condemned to their third straight defeat, with the 1-0 win strengthening Gamba's position in the league's 2nd place.

Meanwhile, at the Shonan BMW Stadium Hiratsuka, 16th placed Shonan stunned defending J1 champions Yokohama 1-0 thanks to a 62nd minute goal from Mitsuki Saito, while FC Tokyo moved up to third after Kensuke Nagai's first half goal gave them a 1-0 win over Consadole at the Ajinomoto. Last but not least, Wednesday's last rescheduled match saw Nagoya Grampus succumbing to a 2-0 defeat away at Sanfrecce Hiroshima - a match that was initially delayed all the way back in July due to Nagoya suffering a small COVID-19 outbreak back then.

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