KASHIMA, IBARAKI PREF. - Serginho struck the winner midway through the first half as the Kashima Antlers beat Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-0 in the opening leg of their Asian Champions League round-of-16 tie on Tuesday.
The 24-year-old Brazilian, one of the heroes of Kashima’s maiden ACL title run last year, beat Sanfrecce ‘keeper Hirotsugu Nakabayashi with a header from close range in the 24th minute at Kashima Stadium.
In the first all-Japan round-of-16 game since 2011, Hiroshima, the Group F winner, was forced to play the last four minutes plus additional time with 10 men, after midfielder Sho Inagaki was dismissed for a second yellow card.
With Hiroshi Jofuku’s side aiming to dictate the flow with, its close passing game, Group G runner-up Kashima looked comfortable hitting on the counter.
Despite more than 60 percent of possession, Sanfrecce managed to put just one of their nine shots on target. Go Oiwa’s men, meanwhile, kept Nakabayashi busy as they found the mark with six of their seven attempts.
The two J. League sides will play the second leg of the tie next Tuesday at Hiroshima’s Edion Stadium.