J-League champs Gamba set for return to ACL quarterfinals

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’s asserted their dominance over K-League representatives on Wednesday in the first leg AFC Champions League Round of 16.

All four goals in the J-League champions’ 3-1 win came in the second half, with Koki Yonekura finding the net in-between domestic scoring leader ’s brace.

A Yun Ju-tae goal late in stoppage time prevented Masaaki Higashiguchi from taking a clean sheet back to Osaka, but his side can still celebrate three crucial away goals ahead of next week’s second leg at Banpaku Stadium.

The result gives Gamba a clear path to the quarterfinals of the continental tournament for the first time since their championship run in 2008. That 5-0 aggregate win over Australia’s Adelaide United was followed by three straight Round of 16 exits and an infamous last-place finish in 2012’s Group E.

They could be joined in by Kashiwa Reysol who won 3-2 at Suwon Bluewings in their Tuesday night encounter with a double by Leandro and an additional goal by Akimi Barada.

It would mark the first time since 2009 that two Japanese teams advanced past the Round of 16, but J-League officials won’t be hoping for a repeat of that tournament where Kawasaki Frontale and Nagoya Grampus were drawn together in the quarterfinals.