Gamba Osaka coach Akira Nishino admitted his side was not as strong as Shandong Luneng but was happy with the way they controlled the ball.
The reigning Asian champions won their fifth game on the trot in the competition despite having key playmaker Yasuhito Endo sent off prior to half-time and Nishino said he was delighted with the players’ performance especially seeing as they had to alter their formation.
“Shandong are physically stronger than us,” he said.
“Fortunately, we controlled the game through some good moves and it proved to be an efficient way for us.
“After Endo was sent off, I changed the formation from 4-4-2 to 4-4-1 and told Leandro that he should play more freely at the front. It proved that the strategy worked.
“The match cost us a lot of stamina but I am satisfied that we achieved what we expected,” continued Nishino.
“It is good that we have gained the top spot of the group after this hard-fought victory and I am also happy to see that we committed few fouls and played more efficiently.”