KAWASAKI - Japan’s clubs had a poor opening to the 2018 Asian Champions League on Tuesday, when Kawasaki Frontale and Kashiwa Reysol both tasted defeat in their group stage openers.
J. League champions Frontale stumbled 1-0 at home to China’s Shanghai SIPG, while Reysol failed to make an early lead count in a 3-2 defeat at South Korea’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.
At Kawasaki’s Todoroki Stadium, Brazilian striker Elkeson scored the game’s only goal in the 23rd minute of Frontale’s Group F opener.
Shanghai was able to apply pressure from the start with three attackers up front, while Frontale barely managed to threaten the goal. Yoshito Okubo, who came on as a substitute and scored in Saturday’s Fuji Xerox Super Cup loss, started but was ineffective.
“Things went as expected with Kawasaki playing their preferred compact, possession-oriented game,” Shanghai manager Vitor Pereira said. “To counter that, we looked for opportunities to counter and were able to score despite our few opportunities.”
Despite two straight disappointing results, Frontale manager Toru Oniki was in no mood to panic.
“We’re not going to get down because of this, but rather look ahead to our next match,” said Oniki, whose men will be at Ulsan Hyundai next Tuesday. “If we are not obsessed with that one thing we need, it’s going to be a hard game.”
In Group E, Reysol surrendered three second-half goals as their campaign got off to an awkward start.
Ramon Lopes opened the scoring in the 10th minute and Ataru Esaka doubled Reysol’s lead in the 27th. But after a quiet first half with only four shots, the hosts bombarded the Kashiwa goal after the intermission.
Lee Dong-gook opened Jeonbuk’s account in the 55th minute after a corner, and 20 minutes later Kim Jin-su hammered home from close range after another set-piece. Lee completed his brace in the 84th minute from open play.