SYDNEY – Kawasaki Frontale were sentenced to their second straight defeat in the Asian Champions League on Wednesday night after going down 1-0 away to Western Sydney Wanderers, but two-time defending J.League champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima picked up their first win by edging last year’s beaten finalists FC Seoul 2-1 at home.
Frontale enjoyed plenty of possession but lacked a cutting edge in the final third and Labinot Haliti’s early strike proved decisive as Sydney picked up its second win in Group H.
Sydney improved to six points while Frontale, who opened their campaign with a 1-0 win over China’s Guizhou Renhe, have three from three matches.
“We made chances and it is up to the players to finish,” said Kawasaki manager Yahiro Kazama. “It wasn’t a bad performance by any means. We have still got two games at home and are looking forward.”
Coming off a 2-0 defeat away to South Korea’s Ulsan Hyundai last week, Kawasaki fell behind after just three minutes at Parramatta Stadium, Haliti tapping unmarked in at the far post after Tomi Juric had helped on a ball into the box from Kwabena Appiah.
Kawasaki nearly hit back in the 16th, but Wanderers ‘keeper Ante Covic parried Jun Kanakubo’s shot and Yu Kobayashi could only dump the rebound into the side netting.
Kentaro Moriya was unable to get his shot on target as the visitors made a promising start to the second half and goalkeeper Yohei Nishibe came to their rescue on the hour mark when he tipped over Juric’s overhead kick.
Kawasaki brought on last season’s J.League top scorer Yoshito Okubo midway through the second half but despite wave after wave of pressure they were unable to find a way through.
In Group F, Hisato Sato teed up Yojiro Takahagi to open the scoring from the edge of the box eight minutes into the second half, only for Rafael Costa to pull one back for the South Koreans moments later.
But bleach-blonde defender Tsukasa Shiotani, currently in a rich vein of scoring form, bagged the winner with 11 minutes left to move Hiroshima onto four points.
“I think things are going almost too well for me,” said Shiotani, who was in a playful mood in the post-match interview. “Maybe it’s because I’m a blonde,” he joked.
“This has given us a chance to make it through the group stage and I will do my best to help us qualify.”