Kashima Antlers are one step away from long-desired Asian glory after a testy but emphatic 2-0 win over Iran's Persepolis in the first leg of the 2018 AFC Champions League final on Saturday.

Former 2002 World Cup venue Kashima Stadium in Ibaraki Prefecture was as fitting an opening stage as any in the two-legged battle to determine Asia's top club, with 35,022 packing the stands including around a thousand fans cheering for the visitors from Tehran.

Kashima’s starters were well-rested after what was essentially a two-week break from their last match, with the team’s second-string players carrying the load in a 1-0 J. League first-division win against Cerezo Osaka on Wednesday.