The penultimate match day of the 2017 AFC Champions League group stage took place on Tuesday night, with two J.League clubs in need of big results to stay in contention for qualification to next month’s Round of 16.
After opening their campaign with four straight draws, Kawasaki Frontale hoped for their first win of the tournament when they traveled to face Suwon Bluewings.
Their prayers were answered in the 48th minute when Tatsuki Nara headed in captain Kengo Nakamura’s free kick. The team managed to hold on for the rest of the second half for a key 1-0 victory.
Frontale now trail Suwon by one point and current leaders Guangzhou Evergrande by two points, setting up a final-day scenario in which the J.League side will need a win against Eastern and help from the Chinese giants when they face Suwon.
Meanwhile, Gamba Osaka remain without a win after drawing with 2008 Final opponents Adelaide United.
Early goals by Shun Nagasawa and Ritsu Doan gave the hosts what should have been a dominant lead, but Gamba faltered soon after and allowed the Australians to claw back to 2-2 early in the second half.
Veteran Yasuhito Endo regrettably sent his penalty kick skyward in the 58th minute, and despite retaking the lead on a 77th-minute own goal Gamba were denied full points after Papa Diawara’s stoppage-time stunner made it 3-3.
Kenta Hasegawa’s men now face a significant challenge in order to reach the knockout stage, needing a big win at second-place Jeju United next month as well as help from group leaders Jiangsu Suning, who will face Adelaide in their final match.