Brazilian forward Lucas scored a goal and set up another as Japan's Gamba Osaka beat Australia's Adelaide United 3-0 in the first leg of the Asian Champions League final.
|Lucas of Gamba Osaka wins the ball [GALLO/GETTY]
Two goals late in the first half put Gamba on the way to a result that, with the second leg to come next week in Australia, should be enough to keep the trophy in Japan after last year's win by Urawa Reds.
Adelaide paid the price for twice giving the ball away in midfield and exposing their defence in the closing moments of the half.
On the first occasion, Takahiro Futagawa hit a long pass to Lucas, whose shot deflected off the foot of lunging Adelaide defender Angelo Costanzo and went past goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic, putting the hosts ahead in the 38th minute.
Gamba doubled the lead five minutes later, taking advantage of some more sloppy passing.
Hiyato Sasaki intercepted a pass and fed Lucas, who quickly passed the ball off to Japan international Yasuhito Endo.
Endo on form
Endo, the hero of Gamba's semi-final win over defending champions Urawa Reds, beat Galekovic with a low left-foot shot to the far corner of the net.
"They weren't as strong defensively as we thought they would be," said Gamba coach Akira Nishino.
"This is a good result for us and we will try to capitalise on it in the next game."
Michihiro Yasuda settled the matter in the 61st minute when he converted on a corner kick from Endo.
"We were able to carry the momentum over from the first half," said Endo.
"Hopefully, we can continue to play this style of football in the away match."
|Adelaide's poor defence created holes [GALLO/GETTY]
Robert Cornthwaite had Adelaide's best scoring chance early in the second half when he picked up a loose ball on a goal-mouth scramble, but fired over the net from close range.
Adelaide was coming off a weekend loss to Melbourne Victory which ended their 13-match unbeaten streak and also cost the South Australian club first place in the domestic league standings, which Melbourne took on goal difference.
Adelaide will be included in next month's Club World Cup of continental champions regardless of the finals result because as host, Japan is guaranteed to have a team in the tournament.
The Australian club did win the home leg of their semi-final, against Bunyodkor of Uzbekistan, 3-0 and will need to repeat that performance at home on November 12.
Gamba controlled play in the first half and had several good scoring chances early on.
Tomokazu Myojin fired a shot from the top of the area 10 minutes in that Galekovic deflected just wide of the net.
Adelaide was outshot 11-2 in the first half.