Kashiwa – Leandro Domingues struck twice and set up another as Kashiwa Reysol came from behind to beat Central Coast Mariners 3-1, making it two wins out of two in the Asian Champions League on Wednesday night.
Patrick Zwaanswijk took the wind out of Kashiwa’s sails with an eighth-minute opener for the Australians on a blustery evening in northern Chiba, but Domingues leveled with a well-taken strike midway through the first half.
The Brazilian then turned provider for Kenta Kano to grab his first goal since arriving over the winter from Yokohama F. Marinos, before sealing victory with a clever volley for the Emperor’s Cup holders in the late stages.
“The difference between the two teams was Domingues,” Mariners coach Graham Arnold said. “He probably earns more than our whole squad.”
Central Coast had a great chance to pull one back at the death but their penalty jinx continued as Kashiwa goalkeeper Takanori Sugeno saved substitute Michael McGlinchey’s spot kick.
It was the fifth penalty in a row — all from different takers — the Mariners have failed to convert.
“It’s extremely frustrating, mate,” former Socceroos boss Arnold said. “It’s five different penalty takers and five missed penalties. We practice them in training and I think it is the pressure once they get up to the penalty spot. Simple. It’s very frustrating.”
Kashiwa stayed perfect in Group H while Mariners have one point after their opening 0-0 draw with South Korea’s Suwon Bluewings.
“We were a very focused and a very high quality team tonight,” said Kashiwa coach Nelsinho, whose team fell at the round of 16 in their ACL debut last season.
“We kept our composure even though we went behind early on. We have two wins now and that takes us close to qualifying for the next round.”
Missing influential midfielder Jorge Wagner due to injury, Kashiwa kept Mathew Ryan on his toes early and the Mariners goalkeeper did well to push away Tatsuya Masushima’s volley after a dangerous corner on five minutes.
But it was the visitors who took the lead on eight minutes, former Oita Trinta defender Zwaanswijk powering home a header from Oliver Bozanic’s rightwing corner, much to the delight of a smattering of traveling fans behind the goal.
Kashiwa had a strong shout for a penalty waved away after Kano went down in the box on 16 minutes, but managed to level when Domingues took a defense-splitting pass from captain Hidekazu Otani, finishing with aplomb.
Masato Kudo headed just over on 28 minutes but Reysol nearly fell behind from another set piece 10 minutes before the interval, Sugeno getting a hand to another Zwaanswijk header before Masato Fujita hacked the loose ball off the line.
Rain worsened the already difficult playing conditions in the second half, but Kashiwa continued to look lively as they tried to carve out another opening which finally arrived after 68 minutes, Kano prodding in Domingues’ cross at the far post.
Domingues rounded off the scoring before Sugeno compounded a miserable night for the visitors as he saved the penalty with his feet in a tense finale.
“We conceded first but just got the job done. We didn’t do anything special, just kept it simple,” said 2011 J. League Player of the Year Domingues.
“We won because of our quality as a unit and the quality of each and every individual. I have been here three years and I think we have what it takes to become champions.”
In Tuesday’s matches involving Japanese clubs, 2007 ACL winners Urawa Reds took their first three points with a 4-1 thrashing of Thailand’s Muangthong United in Group F, but tournament debutants Vegalta Sendai drew again as they were held 0-0 away to China’s Jiangsu Sainty.
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