Sydney FC’s valiant defensive display has ended in heartbreaking fashion, going down 1-0 to Kawasaki Frontale through a solitary late goal at the Todoroki Athletics Stadium.
The night began in curious circumstances, with Sydney leaving stalwart Josh Brillante out of the squad. The club announced via social media that the midfielder had had his head turned by interest from an overseas club, and “wasn’t in the right frame of mind” to play.
Instead, the workmanlike Paulo Retre filled his midfield role, as Steve Corica’s men set up behind the ball and attempted to grind out a result away from home.
Andrew Redmanyne came to the rescue on several occasions, but the dominant Kawasaki eventually got their reward, with substitute Manabu Saito popping up in a crowded penalty area to score the winner in the 83rd minute.
Andrew Redmayne – 8.5
Good save to turn Damiao’s effort behind, but flapped at the resulting corner, and was lucky not to concede. At full stretch on the hour mark to stop Morita’s powerful volley, before making himself big to deny Tanaka. Could do nothing about Saito’s winner.
Rhyan Grant – 7
Burned by Hasegawa early on but adapted, and Frontale found few openings down his flank for the rest of the half. A fluffed clearance in the second half went straight to Hasegawa, but the winger could only toe-poke tamely at Redmayne.
Alex Wilkinson – 7.5
Was alert to sweep and clear the danger on multiple occasions, notably from Nakamura through balls. What he lacks in pace, he makes up for in judgement and reading of the game.
Ben Warland – 6
Clumsily turned the ball over in a dangerous position, but thanks to his defensive partner the chance came to nothing. A rugged (if inelegant) display, as Sydney battled but ultimately fell short of a clean sheet.
Got a toe on the crucial cross, but could only deflect it into the path of Saito, who coolly side-footed home.