The reigning Japanese champions hadn't won in their last seven ACL encounters, and had only won one match in all competitions since August last year, but seemed able to comfortably dominate the Sky Blues.

38-year-old one-club man Kengo Nakamura was the star man, dictating play and creating many of the host's dangerous opportunities, while Sydney - although defending valiantly - only registered two shots in 94 minutes.

Ultimately it was Kawasaki sub Manabu Saito who did the damage, coming on to coolly slot past Andrew Redmayne after a poorly dealt-with cross in the 83rd minute. 

"We nearly got there, nearly got a good point away from home, they're a very good side and they've got a lot of young lads they can bring on in front of a very good crowd," Brandon O'Neill said.

"We've still got four winnable games, especially at home if we can win them, now we regroup and look towards the next match."

Sydney now sit bottom of their group before what looks to be a must-win clash with Shanghai SIPG, with Ulsan Hyundai top with four points and Kawasaki third with three.