SAITAMA – Urawa Reds’ early season woes were compounded with a 1-0 home defeat to Brisbane Roar in the Asian Champions League on Wednesday night.
Brandon Borrello struck the clincher early for Brisbane on another miserable night for 2007 champions Reds, who finished the game with 10 men following the 51st-minute dismissal of defender Daisuke Nasu.
Urawa have now lost all three of their competitive matches this year, and will be looking for a reversal of fortunes when they open their J League campaign away to J1 returnees Shonan Bellmare on Saturday.
In South Korea, Kashima Antlers put up a fight against FC Seoul but also lost 1-0, suffering their second straight Group H defeat in Asia’s flagship club competition. Of the four J. League sides in the ACL, only Kashiwa Reysol have points to show for.
Reds came into the Group G affair looking to rebound from back-to-back losses in their first two games of the season — a 2-1 ACL reverse last week to South Korea’s Suwon Samsung, followed by 2-0 Fuji Xerox Super Cup defeat to Gamba at the weekend.
Slovenian striker Zlatan Ljubijankic started alongside Shinzo Koroki as Petrovic shuffled his pack again, making five changes to the team that lost to treble winners Gamba on Saturday.
But Reds made the worst possible start and found themselves a goal down after just two minutes at Saitama Stadium.
Yosuke Kashiwagi lost possession on the edge of his own area and Thomas Broich fed Borrello who beat Shusaku Nishikawa with an angled drive.
Brisbane, beaten 1-0 at home against Beijing Guoan in their ACL opener, played some pretty stuff in the opening stages and nearly doubled their advantage on 15 minutes, Luke Brattan fizzing a shot just over the crossbar.
Petrovic’s men, meanwhile, lacked cohesion, looked bereft of ideas and unsurprisingly, left the pitch to a cacophony of boos from their own fans.
Reds started the second half with renewed purpose but Koroki missed a great chance to pull them level, firing at Brisbane goalkeeper Jamie Young after a moment of hesitancy before they were reduced to 10 men.
Andrija Kaluderovic broke clean through on goal but was held back by Nasu, giving Uzbek referee Ilgiz Tantashev no option but to show Reds’ defensive lynchpin a straight red.
Nishikawa prevented Reds from falling further behind in the 70th minute, thwarting Henrique before diving full stretch to keep out Kaluderovic’s low drive.
But despite a late spell of pressure, Urawa were unable to find a way back.
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