April 22, 2015 10:51:55 UK
Western Sydney Wanderers fell to bottom spot in their Asian Champions League group after conceding an injury-time goal to lose 2-1 at home to Kashima Antlers.
Tony Popovic’s side now know the defence of their title will be all over in a fortnight unless they can win away to group leaders Guangzhou Evergrande, who have already qualified for the knock-out stages.
Even then, they would need Kashima and FC Seoul to draw their match in Japan to allow them to sneak into the second qualification spot.
We had some very good opportunities to go further in front, we didn’t take them.
Western Sydney are 2.10 to win their next game against Perth Glory, who are 3.30 with the draw 3.50.
It was a must-win game for Wanderers at Pirtek Stadium, and they played well in difficult conditions in the first half but faded badly after the break.
Kashima piled on the pressure in the second half, finishing with 23 shots to Western Sydney’s 10, and their performance merited the win.
Wanderers, building on the confidence boost of their A-League win against Adelaide United at the weekend, went ahead after 24 minutes through Nikita Rukavytsya.
The forward had already gone close, forcing keeper Hitoshi Sogahata to tip the ball round in the seventh minute, and he made no mistake when given a second chance. Naomichi Ueda failed to clear Yojiro’s pass into the area and Rukavytsya clipped the ball past the keeper.
Keeper Ante Covic, player of the tournament last year as Wanderers won the trophy, again impressed as he thwarted the visitors.
He pushed Shuto Yamamoto’s header onto the bar soon after Wanderers had taken the lead, and was called on several times after the break.
Covic was left exposed though, when Kashima equalised with 24 minutes left, the defence being caught out by a ball into the area and Shouma Doi slotting home.
A draw looked to be the best Western Sydney could hope for as the visitors kept up their pressure late on, but even that was denied them when Mu Kanazaki poked the ball home from Shuto Yamamoto’s low cross in the second minute of injury time.
Popovic said: “We had some very good opportunities to go further in front, we didn’t take them.
“The second half they (Kashima) improved, but we weren’t in the game at all in the second half.”
Wanderers are 8.00 to beat Perth Glory 1-0.
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