x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Lucas seals a stroll in the park

Gamba Osaka are crowned as the Asian Champions League winners, clinching the title 5-0 on aggregate.

Gamba Osaka's Lucas, right, celebrates sealing the title for the Japanese team with his second goal of the night.
Gamba Osaka's Lucas, right, celebrates sealing the title for the Japanese team with his second goal of the night.

ADELAIDE // Two goals from Brazilian striker Lucas saw Gamba Osaka lift the Asian Champions League trophy yesterday with victory over Adelaide United in the second leg of the final completing a 5-0 aggregate success. The former FC Tokyo striker scored in the fourth and 15th minutes to sink Adelaide's hopes after the J League side had secured a 3-0 win in Osaka last week. Gamba made sure the trophy remains in Japan as they follow in the footsteps of last year's champions, Urawa Reds. Gamba coach Akira Nishino said his team was always confident going into the match. "There was a lot of pressure, but I'm very happy for us to receive this trophy," he said. "Winning all of our away matches rivals what Urawa Reds did last year." Beaten finalists Adelaide take away the consolation of a place at next month's Fifa Club World Cup with Gamba already guaranteed a spot as representatives of host nation Japan. Needing a minor miracle to deny the Japanese outfit the title after being outplayed in the first leg, Adelaide made a flying start to proceedings as they pumped the ball forward in an attempt to put the visitors under pressure. But as early as the fourth minute, the home side's hopes were dashed and the majority of the 17,000 fans in Hindmarsh Stadium were silenced when Lucas claimed Gamba's opener. Hayato Sasaki's shot from the edge of the penalty area was parried by 17-year-old goalkeeper Mark Birighitti - making only his fourth appearance in the senior side - and Lucas was quickest to react as he slotted home. Eleven minutes later Gamba doubled their lead and Lucas was again on hand to score, this time controlling a through ball from Takahiro Futagawa before steering his effort beyond the advancing Birighitti. Adelaide did have the ball in the net when Cristiano headed beyond the outstretched arm of Yosuke Fujigaya in the 26th minute only for his effort to be ruled out for offside. But there was little the A-League side could do to deny the technically superior Japanese, who were barely operating beyond cruise control. A rash of substitutions from both teams took whatever sting remained out of the encounter in the second half as Gamba completed an impressive record of winning every game on the road in this year's competition. Adelaide United coach Aurelio Vidmar had nothing but praise for Gamba. "They're a very good side, a classy side," said the former Socceroos striker. "There was a real dagger to the heart after four minutes, it was absolutely impossible after that." * PA Sport