KAWASAKI – Substitute Manabu Saito struck a late winner as Kawasaki Frontale beat visiting Sydney FC 1-0 in the Asian Champions League on Wednesday.
Despite taking 20 shots to their opponents’ two, Frontale had difficulty breaking down the Australian side, which brought a defensive game plan into the Group H clash at Todoroki Stadium.
Frontale — who last week lost their ACL opener 1-0 to Shanghai SIPG on a late penalty — had just one previous win this year, a 1-0 victory over Urawa Reds in the Fuji Xerox Super Cup on Feb. 16.
After missing a number of chances in the first half, the back-to-back J. League champions turned up the pressure following the break.
Frontale made repeated attacks inside the final third late in the match but struggled to find a way past Sydney goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne.
The custodian denied Ao Tanaka from close range in the 75th minute, then saved Yu Kobayashi’s header from the center of the box a minute later.
Substitute forward Kei Chinen, meanwhile, sent one attempt over the bar and saw another saved in the top corner.
Frontale manager Toru Oniki brought on Saito in the 81st minute. The move paid off two minutes later when the attacking substitute beat Redmayne with a shot from the middle of the box.
The win moves Kawasaki past Sydney into third place behind SIPG on goal difference.