Gamba Osaka coach Akira Nishino was left ruing missed opportunities in his side's 5-3 loss to Manchester United at the FIFA Club World Cup, and he made it clear that he was not satisfied. "People told me it was an exciting game, but for me, it's not exciting at all. When the teams score goals, it's exciting for the spectators. I would accept it if the score was reversed," he said of their semi-final on Thursday.
Nishino guided Japan to a historic victory over powerhouse Brazil in the Atlanta Olympics, the so-called "miracle in Miami," but his tactics of tight defence and counter-attacks were criticized as boring. Since then, he has tried to form aggressive teams with a strong front line, which resulted in three goals against United.
Masato Yamazaki pulled one back in the 74th minute to excite 68,000 spectators after Ryan Giggs set up two goals for Nemanja Vidic and Cristiano Ronaldo in the first half. But Wayne Rooney's emergence as a substitute proved devastating, as he made it 3-1 after less than a minute on the field.
Rooney and Darren Fletcher added two more goals in the following four minutes to take the game out of Osaka's reach, although the home side fought back with two goals in the dying moments.
Nishino admitted that Rooney's first goal dashed any hopes Gamba had of a comeback. "Rooney always attempts chancy manoeuvres," he said. "We had some moments to control the game, but I was disappointed in the way we conceded the goals easily. It was not a fight where we made them take us seriously. I'm not satisfied at all. But I evaluate my players' performance that they never gave up until the end, and kept themselves aggressive and offensive throughout."
Skipper Satoshi Yamaguchi said of the Rooney goal: "It was mortifying, because it was soon after we thought we could catch up. But we must accept the result. I'm a defender, so I was disappointed that we conceded five goals."
Dangerman Yasuhito Endo, who cashed in on a penalty in the 85th minute, said he enjoyed the experience despite the defeat. "I think we played aggressively even though we were goals behind," he said. "I'm not satisfied but I enjoyed it a lot. We thought we would be able to do it at 3-1, but it was a huge blow when we let in a goal some 30 seconds later at a time when we should have concentrated well...that is Gamba Osaka's vulnerable point."