OSAKA, Japan (AFP) - Gamba Osaka have one hand on the AFC Champions League trophy after trampling Adelaide United 3-0 in the first leg of the final Wednesday to leave the Australians with a daunting task.
The Japanese outfit dominated their opponents with ace Brazilian striker Lucas opening the scoring in the 37th minute before setting up the second for midfielder Yasuhito Endo six minutes later.
Michihiro Yasuda added a third for the home team in the 68th minute, leaving Adelaide with plenty to do in the second leg at Hindmarsh Stadium on November 12.
It could have been worse for Aurelio Vidmar's men, with Endo having a goal disallowed from his curling freekick in the dying minutes with striker Roni adjudged offside.
Gamba coach Akira Nishino was more-than satisfied with the night's work.
"I reckon the second match will be quite tough. But we got a good advantage and want to make good use of it," he said.
"Adelaide's defence was not as tight as we had expected. I knew it would be a battle on the ground but we passed the ball well. We played a fine game of football.
"We have cleared half of our goal to become the champions by playing our brand of attacking football and we will play still better with a comfortable lead."
Vidmar admitted his side had a mountain to climb after what he called a "truly disappointing" defeat.
The deficit was "now very big ... Mount Fuji, probably," quipped Vidmar.
"They were an extremely good side."
About the return leg at home, he added: "We will go there and give everything we can.
"That's all I can ask for. I'm really happy with the way we played in the second half and put more pressure on them."
Vidmar vowed before the match that his team would rise to the occasion but their tactical discipline failed them with nerves evident in the biggest game in the club's history.
Given their home advantage, Gamba was always going to be favourites and they started the better side, encamped in the Australian field for most of the first half with Tomokazu Myojin, Hideo Hashimoto, and Hayato Sasaki going close.
Adelaide's best chance came after 26 minutes when Robert Cornthwaite let rip from 25 yards only to see his effort go wide.
The A-League side would have dearly loved to take an away goal into the second leg, but it was Gamba who opened the scoring in front of a paacked stadium.
Lucas fired a shot after latching onto a pass from Takahiro Futagawa from near the centre line and goalkeeper Angelo Costanzo could only watch it flash past him in the 37th minute.
The partisan crowd was ecstatic six minutes later when Diego won the ball and set free Lucas who then released Endo down the left with acres of space.
Defenders flocked to the Osaka star, but Endo fired in a lethal left-foot strike which hit the mark.
The second half saw Gamba continue their domination and they struck the killer blow in the 68th minute with Endo floating in a corner to Yasuda who unleashed a withering strike from 25 yards which pierced the Reds defence.
"We could have scored more if we were better skilled in finishing," said Endo.
"We want to keep up our motivation and play the same kind of football. I know the pressure will be more fierce away but we will try not to be outdone mentally."
Despite their loss, Adelaide are already guaranteed a place in the lucrative FIFA Club World Cup next month against continental champions including Manchester United.
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