JDT out of AFC Champions League after playoff loss to Gamba Osaka
Johor Darul Ta'zim missed out on qualification for the AFC Champions League after 2008 winners Gamba Osaka brushed them aside 3-0 in a playoff in Japan on Tuesday night.
It means that the Malaysia Super League champions will play in the AFC Cup in 2017.
Brazilian striker Ademilson and Shun Nagasawa netted two quickfire goals for the J-League giants in the first half before Genta Miura completed the rout after the break.
Without their suspended Argentine forward Jeronimo Barrales, JDT coach Benjamin Mora still opted for a positive line-up for the game at a sparsely populated Suita City Football Stadium.
In near freezing temperatures, teenage winger Safawi Rasid was handed a start, along with fellow Malaysia international attackers Azamuddin Akil and Amrulhadi Zainal.
Gamba Osaka, fourth in the J.League last season, applied the pressure immediately. Midfielder Yosuke Ideguchi got into the box, but was unable to volley home a dangerous cross from the left.
A rare foray towards the Gamba goal saw right-back S.Kunanlan fire JDT's first shot on target in the 10th minute from outside the area. But it was comfortably saved by Masaaki Higashiguchi.
Three minutes later, Gamba playmaker Shu Kurata also fired from range, forcing Farizal Marlias to spill the shot. But the goalkeeper was able to regather the ball before the fast-charging Shun Nagasawa reached it.
JDT's quick counter attack on 17 minutes saw Safiq Rahim unleash Safawi in space on the left, but the 19-year-old rushed his left-footed shot, and it flew harmlessly wide.
Gamba took the lead in the 26th minute after a period of sustained pressing. The ball cannoned off the JDT defence into the path of Yasuyuki Konno whose cross from the left was met by a pinpoint header from Brazilian striker Ademilson, putting the home side ahead.
JDT immediately responded with a dangerous run from Gonzalo Cabrera that unleashed Azamuddin before he fouled left-back Hiroki Fujiharu in the box.
But Gamba would make it two goals in three minutes for a well-deserved 2-0 lead.
Kurata found Fujiharu whose first-time pass was slammed home by striker Shun Nagasawa in the 29th minute, getting the better of Fazly Mazlan. Nine minutes earlier, Fazly was lucky to escape with only a yellow card after a studs-showing challenge on Gamba's Oh Jae-Suk.
Brian Ferreira had been having a quiet game, but he did get JDT's second shot on target in the 41st minute, without causing Higashiguchi much concern.
JDT started the second half in more confident fashion, unlike the first half where they were constantly harried off possession by Gamba.
One sequence of passes led to Safawi receiving possession just outside the Gamba box. The teenager unleashed a decent hit that was gathered by Higashiguchi.
But Gamba soon regained the upper hand as Fabio Aguiar directed a Yasuhito Endo header just wide. Then Shun Nagasawa was denied by a last-ditch Kunanlan tackle from close range.
That effort deflected wide for a corner, from which Gamba capitalised to make it 3-0 in the 69th minute.
The architect was captain Endo, who floated in a delicious corner which saw Miura rising highest to find the bottom corner with his debut goal in Gamba colours.
Safiq managed a free kick that sailed just over the bar in the closing stages.
It was the Malaysians' last crack at goal as 2015 semifinalists Gamba comfortably sealed their passage into the ACL for another season.
For JDT, defeat was an important learning curve as they aspire to emulate their opponents by becoming regulars in Asia's elite competition.
JDT: Farizal Marlias (GK), Marcos Antonio, Fadhli Shas, Fazly Mazlan, Amirulhadi Zainal, Safiq Rahim (C), Gonzalo Cabrera, Brian Ferreira, Azamuddin Akil (Mahali Jasuli 54'), Safawi Rasid (Nazmi Faiz 65'), S. Kunanlan
Gamba Osaka: Masaaki Higashiguchi (GK), Fabio Aguiar, Genta Miura, Hiroki Fujiharu, Yasuhito Endo (C) (Jin Izumisawa 80'), Yosuke Ideguchi, Oh Jae-suk, Shu Kurata, Shun Nagasawa, Ademilson (Ritsu Doan 88')
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