Western Sydney have blown a golden opportunity to assert their dominance in the Champions League as they fell 2-1 to Kawasaki Frontale at Todoroki Stadium on Tuesday night.
The match started nervously, with both sides struggling to get control early, but as the dust settled it was Kawasaki who went out for it, dominating the possession in the early stages.
In the 21st minute Kawasaki should have been awarded a penalty as Anthony Golec’s arm stopped a free-kick, resuting in a corner instead of the penalty that only saw the ball go wide.
That let off seemed to spur Western Sydney on and before the 25th minute they had the lead, against the run of play.
Dean Heffernan sent in a corner that Yohei Nishibe allowing Labinot Haliti a simple header to open the scoring, stunning the home crowd.
In the 38th minute Kawasaki should have drawn level as Yusuki Tanakana got the ball in the middle of the penalty area but he blasted his effort well over the bar.
Then in the 43rd minute Yoshito Okubo made a great run up the right and he sent a cut-back for team-mates, but there were none there, allowing Western Sydney to go to the break with the lead.
The second half started the same way, with Kawasaki starting well, and in the 50th minute should have been back level when Renato crossed in for Okubo but hit his effort in to Anthony Golec on the line.
Kawasaki kept attacking, and in the 60th minute had another chance as Renato hit a powerful free-kick that Ante Covic was forced to palm away.
It was all Kawasaki and just after the hour they went closer still as Morishma’s effort came off of the cross bar, leaving Ante Covic stranded, only for Renato to send the rebound wide.
Renato was all action for the Japanese club and again in the 64th minute Covic was forced in to a sharp save to keep his side on level terms.
But the resistance wasn’t always going to hold out as Okubo and Nakamura linked up well before Nakamura snuck his shot through Covic, who couldn’t handle it to get back on level terms.
After the goal Kawasaki looked much less intense, but Western Sydney still really failed to threaten, and as such Ryota Oshima was able to find a winner in the 74th minute, slamming his effort home from long range.