BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – Japanese champions Kashima Antlers crashed to their second defeat in Group E in the Asian Champions League on Wednesday night, going down 2-1 away to Australian A-League club Brisbane Roar.
Goals from Jamie Maclaren and Brett Holman put Brisbane in control and, although Ryota Nagaki scored late for Kashima, the Australians held on to claim their first win.
Kashima has six points from four games and Brisbane has four.
“We were sluggish in the first half and slow to react,” said Kashima manager Masatada Ishii. “The players turned it around in the second half but it took us a while to score. We had our moments but could not turn them into goals. It’s a disappointing result.
“We have got two games left, one at home and one away and have to prepare to go and win them.”
Seeking to avenge a 3-0 defeat at Kashima in the last round of matches in March, Brisbane took the lead on 18 minutes, thanks in part to some sloppy defending from Kashima defender Naomichi Ueda.
Ueda failed to clear Brandon Borrello’s ball over the top and Maclaren, the A-League’s joint top scorer with 18 goals, took full advantage, burying a left-footed shot into the far corner of the net.
Antlers continued to ride their luck at the back and Thomas Kristensen fired just off target on 28 minutes before Maclaren’s low drive forced a save from Kwoun Sun-tae.
The visitors, however, enjoyed a good spell towards the end of the first half and twice went close to equalizing.
Leo Silva’s shot was deflected wide following a surging run in the 37th minute, and Daigo Nishi then saw his header come back off the post and into the arms of relieved Brisbane keeper Michael Theo.
But Brisbane doubled its lead four minutes into the second period.
Thomas Broich played a short free kick to Kristensen, who rifled a shot into the box. Mitsuo Ogasawara got a foot to the ball but the rebound fell to Holman, who drove home from just inside the box.
Hiroki Abe missed a golden opportunity to reduce the arrears when he sent a free header wide midway through the second half, but Nagaki gave Kashima hope 10 minutes left.
Yasushi Endo had his shot pushed away but the loose ball fell to Atsutaka Nakamura, who sent the ball back into the box for Nagaki to drill home from close range.
Kashima upped the pressure in the closing stages but was unable to make any further inroads.
Kawasaki Frontale were at home against two-time champions Guangzhou Evergrande of China on Tuesday, with the Group G match ending in a scoreless draw.
In Tuesday’s games involving Japanese clubs, Urawa Reds ended Shanghai SIPG’s perfect record and took the Group F lead with a 1-0 victory in Saitama, while Gamba Osaka went down 3-0 at Jiangsu Suning and slipped to the bottom of Group H.
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