Sir Alex Ferguson spoke highly of United's opening Club World Cup opponents - and Japanese football in general - following a thrilling semi-final in Yokohama.
At a post-match press conference, the boss enthused:
"Gamba really played well, I was impressed. They have a talented team and proved that Japanese football is getting better and better.
"Gamba surprised us with their formation and caused us a few problems until we adapted a bit better to them."
Few pundits would have predicted such a scoreline pre-match - and it seemed all the more unlikely when the game lapsed into a lull after the interval with United 2-0 up and strolling. But that all changed when Gamba pulled a goal back, seconds after Wayne Rooney came on as a sub. Twenty minutes later, the final score read 5-3 in the Reds' favour.
"The fans got their money's worth today," said Sir Alex.
"It was a great match and the score could have been even higher. Edwin van der Sar made a couple of saves and we also had countless opportunities that we couldn't convert."
Sir Alex is already looking forward to Sunday's final against Ecuadorian club LDU Quito.
"I'm very pleased that we've made it to the final, but we will be facing a stern test, as Liga de Quito are very strong defensively. It's never easy against South American teams."
The FIFA Club World Cup final kicks off at 10:30 GMT (19:30 local time) on Sunday -