Classy Kashima down Sydney FC 3-0

An undermanned Sydney FC suffered their first ever home AFC Champions League loss on Wednesday night, a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Japanese giants Kashima Antlers at the Sydney Football Stadium.

An undermanned Sydney FC suffered their first ever home AFC Champions League loss on Wednesday night, a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Japanese giants Kashima Antlers at the Sydney Football Stadium.

7,320 Sky Blue supporters, bar a loyal band of travelling Antlers fans, went home disappointed after Nozawa Takuya scored in the 41st and Gabriel doubled their lead ten minutes late before Shinzoh Koroki capped off a horrid night for Sydney with his strike in injury time.

The Sky Blues, who were without star midfielder Nicky Carle, as well as David Williams and Sebastian Ryall through injury, fought hard but were outclassed by the Antlers. Vitezslav Lavicka-s men now head to Shanghai for the first of three away fixtures - all of which are must win if to stay in contention of progressing through to the next stage of the tournament.

“In areas we did do alright tonight but ultimately they were too sharp. They were too good for us,” captain Stuart Musialik said.

"We started the game well, we played organised, but the game was decided late in the first half and early in the second half," Lavicka added. "The boys worked hard, but quality was the difference."

If Sydney had shown a more clinical edge in front of goal Kashima wouldn-t have been so unforgiving at the other end and would have taken a more cautious approach to defend their lead. But, the Sky Blues only showed glimpses of their dominating performance against Shanghai Shenhua.

Musialik was looking to emulate his performance the week before against Shanghai but the 26-year-old found he faced a much more difficult task as Aoki Takeshi and Ogasawara Mitsuo ran the midfield for Kashima and refused to allow the Sydney skipper time in possession. Musialik, though, adapted with one touch passing and well controlled first touches.

Hiro Moriyasu and Rhyan Grant were eager to shut down any concerns over the Sydney attack, lacking Carle and Williams through injuries, and battled gallantly all night but it was the visitors who showed moments of brilliance and went closest to scoring when, in the 16th minute, Ogasawara drove his long distance shot inches wide.

It was Kashima-s best opportunity and Sydney soon followed that up with their best chance when Bruno Cazarine jumped highest to a Shannon Cole header on the half hour mark, but the Brazilian missed the target by no more than a foot.

But it was a rare breach on the visitor-s defence that was soon rectified when they opened the scoring in the 41st minute. Koroki played a low cross from the byline to the feet of Gabriel, though his first time shot was not to pass Liam Reddy who saved well. But the Sky Blues goalkeeper could do nothing about the follow up at the far post from Nozawa who easily turned in the deflection. Moments later and it was the Sky Blues advancing forward through Grant. The 20-year-old-s shot was intercepted by Mark Bridge who tried to turn it in with the outside of his foot. But Bridge failed to keep the effort down and the ball fizzled harmlessly over the crossbar.

Andrew Durante made his way to the field at half-time for Stephan Keller who suffered a left ankle injury. It was a disruption the Sky Blues did not need and, when Kashima doubled their lead in the 51st minute, Sydney looked unfocused and unprepared for the start of the second term. It was a relatively simple goal, though orchestrated by a fine cross, as Gabriel was left unmarked at the far post and had no trouble converting the header.

The strike left Sydney in a dire situation; requiring three goals to keep their hopes of reaching the knock-out stages realistically alive. Grant and Cazarine nearly offered a dim light of hope for the Sky Blues but neither could direct their header on goal, rather watching their opportunities fly inches past the far post.

The chances continued to fall for Sydney and Kofi Danning, on for Dimitrios Petratos, had his first touch when released on goal collected by Hitoshi Sogahata. Minutes later Cazarine directed another header agonisingly off-target.

Unfortunately it was a regular sight on Wednesday night with Sydney FC well beaten by The Antlers. The 2008 quarter-finalists looked unnerved as they held out wave after wave of Sky Blue advances on goal.

Kashima put the nail in the coffin in injury time with a superb passage of play ending with Koroki beating a stranded Reddy.

Match Detail:

Sydney FC: 0 Kashima Antlers FC: 3 (NOZAWA 41', GABRIEL 51', KOROKI 90+3')

Sydney FC line-up: 1. Liam REDDY (gk), 3. Stephan KELLER (5. Andrew DURANTE 46'), 6. Hirofumi MORIYASU (26. Joel CHIANESE 81'), 8. Stuart MUSIALIK (c), 9. Bruno CAZARINE, 12. Shannon COLE, 17. Matthew JURMAN, 19. Mark BRIDGE, 21. Scott JAMIESON, 23. Rhyan GRANT, 24. Dimitrios PETRATOS (11. Kofi DANNING 57').

Substitutes Not Used: 7. Brendan GAN, 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 25. Nathan SHERLOCK, 27. Jared LUM.

Yellow Cards: Nil. Red Cards: Nil. Goals: Nil.

Kashima Antlers FC line-up: 3. Daiki IWAMASA, 5. ALEX (30. Yuzo TASHIRO 90+4'), 6. Koji NAKATA, 7. Toru ARAIBA, 8. Takuya NOZAWA, 11. Fellyppe GABRIEL, 13. Shinzoh Kohrogi KOROKI, 15. Takeshi AOKI, 18. CARLAO (10. Masashi MOTOYAMA 65'), 21. Hitoshi SOGAHATA (gk), 40. Mitsuo OGASAWARA (c).

Substitutes Not Used: 1. Tetsu SUGIYAMA (gk), 9. Yuya OSAKO, 14. Chikashi MASUDA, 23. Gen SHOJI, 25. Yasushi ENDO.

Yellow Cards: 10. Masashi MOTOYAMA 85'. Red Cards: Nil. Goals: 8. Takuya NOZAWA 41', 11. Fellyppe GABRIEL 52', 13. Shinzoh Kohrogi KOROKI 90+3'.

Referee: Ali Hamad ALBADWAWI (United Arab Emirates) Crowd: 7 320 at the Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney.