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FC Gifu rode their luck to record an important win, led by the high voltage front pairing of Nazarit & NMB24

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  • FC Gifu starting XI: Kawaguchi, Masuyama, Abe, Kitani, Santos, Miyazawa, Takachi, Mizuno, Henik, Namba, Nazarit

A new style for Gifu, seemingly making the pitch narrower and trying to implement a pressuring game. It looked like a 4-3-1-2 formation. Three big names in Kawaguchi, Kitani & Nazarit made their returns from injury whilst Takachi was given a bit more freedom to roam.

Gifu started the game brightly and Nazarit almost opened opened the scoring. Kyoto ‘keeper Oh parried a Namba shot, the rebound fell to the Colombian but he blasted the ball over over. Then Kyoto thought they had taken the lead but Masashi Oguro’s header was ruled out for offside. Replays showed that he started his run just a fraction too early.

Gifu came this close to taking the lead towards the end of the first half. Takachi’s excellent lofted through ball set Namba free, but his left footed shot came back off the inside of the post and rebounded to safety.

Half time came and it was 0-0, but it was never likely to stay that way with both teams showing so much attacking intent. First goal was always going to crucial and Masashi Oguro, so clinical in front of goal this year, wasted a glorious opportunity to get when he headed wide from three yards. Not long after that, Gifu made them pay and it was the irrepressible Hiroaki Namba who got the goal. A cross from Alex Santos was seemingly dealt with by a Kyoto defender, but Namba wasn’t having any of it as he retrieved the ball from the defender and smashed it high into the net before running to the fans in the corner and celebrating.

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Gifu were still riding their luck a bit, and Oguro missed another chance before Nazarit got what turned out to be the winning goal. The excellent Masuyama crossed in from the right, Nazarit completely outmuscled Ishibitsu before coolly prodding past Oh.

Kyoto pulled one back in the 90th minute when substitute Koki Arita smashed the ball past Kawaguchi, and they could have leveled in the 93rd, but defender Bajalica’s header went agonizingly wide. The full time whistle was greeted with euphoria from the Gifu crowd, while Sanga fans were less than impressed with their third successive defeat.

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For Gifu, Henik was superb. His all action style suited a game like that where Gifu pressed & pressured the opposition. Tsukasa Masuyama was also superb. Taking to the right back/wing back slot with ease, he looks a natural there. And I’m running out of words to describe the contribution Namba makes on a weekly basis – he was, again, outstanding. But this was also a victory for Ramos & the coaches. They knew they had to change things to be able to cope with Kyoto, and they did. Bravo, boys!

A much needed win for Gifu, and they will make the long trip to Oita next week in good spirits.

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