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Wanderers face uphill battle in ACL second round

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Western Sydney have had a horrible week as they added to their Grand Final loss a loss in the Asian Champions League second round, falling 3-1 to Sanfrecce Hiroshima in Japan on Wednesday night.

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Hiroshima came out from the opening whistle, looking to make the most of their home advantage and just six minutes in they had the first clear chance of the match.

Yoshifumi Kashiwa found Saturo Yamagishi running on to the ball allowing him to shoot but was denied by a Covic save before Kashiwa again played through Toshihiro Aoyama but the ball was a bit short, as he put it over the bar.

Sanfrecce was were dominant in the opening stages as they tore Western Sydney apart but could not break through, for all their early possession.

The Wanderers had their first chance in the 15th minute as Kwabena Appiah-Kubi sent a ball to the left for Matthew Spiranovic who ran on to the ball and had a shot but sent it wide of the target.

The match tightened in the middle period of the half, but the hosts always seemed to have the edge, with Tony Popovic getting more frustrated as the half continued.

Just past the half hour Sanfrecce could well have hit the lead as Gakuto Notsuda found possession and turned, to hit a soft, placed shot low, leaving Ante Covic stranded, but the placement was slightly off, letting Western Sydney off the hook.

The match started to open up late in the half and Western Sydney had one last chance before the break when Shannon Cole broke free on the wing before crossing in for Labinot Haliti who couldn’t get a solid enough header on it, keeping it scoreless at the break.

It took just two minutes after the break for Sanfrecce to hit the lead as Kashiwa cut inside and sent a ball for Naoki Ishihara to run on to, allowing him to slam it home past Covic.

It could have been 2-0 in the 50th minute as Yamagishi ran around the Wanderers defense to get in at close range but he scuffed his shot and sent it wide.

In the 66th minute Hiroshima did find their second as Yojiro Takahagi ran through the Western Sydney defense, and sent in a weak shot, which was collected by Ishihara who ran on to it and chipped Covic while on the run.

Western Sydney got a vital away goal in the 78th minute through a contentious penalty as Tomi Juric flung himself to the ground and earned a penalty that he was able to quickly recover and slam home a goal that let the Wanderers back in to the match.

In stoppage time Hiroshima restored their two goal lead as a free-kick from Shiotani that beat everybody, with Covic doing a poor job, allowing it to slowly roll in to the corner of the net to seal the 3-1 win and give themselves a big advantage heading back to Australia next week.

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