Group H: Kawasaki Frontale (JPN) 1-0 Sydney FC (AUS)
Kawasaki: A late goal from Manabu Saito earned Japan's Kawasaki Frontale a valuable 1-0 win over a gallant Sydney FC of Australia in their 2019 AFC Champions League Group H encounter at the Todoroki Stadium on Wednesday.
On a chilly night in Kawasaki, the home side were looking for their first win in the AFC Champions League since 2017 and they had a great chance to take an early lead, but new Brazilian striker Leandro Damiao sliced his effort just wide after 12 minutes.
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The Brazilian forced a fine save from Sydney FC goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne on 20 minutes as the home side started to get on top, controlling possession and territory but without the killer instinct needed to open the scoring.
Sydney FC’s best chance of the half came when Milos Ninkovic and Michael Zullo combined nicely on the left hand side, but Zullo’s low cross across the box was well cut out by Kawasaki custodian Jung Sung-ryong.
Redmayne continued to be a thorn in the side of Kawasaki in the second half, diving at full stretch to deny Hidemasa Morita’s volley on the hour mark.
As Kawasaki stepped up the pressure, the Sydney FC defence got pinned further and further back, and Redmayne again stood tall on 65 minutes to save Tatsuya Hasegawa’s poke towards goal.
Next it was the turn of Ao Tanaka to try and find a way past Redmayne on 75 minutes, slaloming his way past the Sydney FC defence before firing off a low and hard shot that was repelled again by Redmayne, with Yu Kobayashi putting his rebound effort over the bar.
Sydney FC’s resistance was eventually broken with just ten minutes to go when Kengo Nakamura’s cross into the box fell at the feet of substitute Saito, whose first-time finish found the back of the net to the relief of their vocal home support.
Without a win from their first two games, Sydney FC face a must-win game at home against Chinese Super League champions Shanghai SIPG on Matchday Three, while Kawasaki travel to Korea Republic to tackle Ulsan Hyundai.
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