Suwon Samsung Bluewings missed out on securing qualification from Group G after succumbing to 1-0 defeat to Kawasaki Frontale in their AFC Champions League clash at the Suwon World Cup Stadium.
- Suwon 0 Kawasaki 1
- Goalless at the break
- Nara opens the scoring
- SSB spurn qualification chance
- Kawasaki move up to second
Defender Tatsuki Nara scored the only goal of the game as his powerful header, early in the second-half, gave the J1 League side a crucial three points in the hunt for a spot in the Round of 16.
Bluewings' inability to find the win now puts them in a difficult position going in the final round of fixtures – where they will face off against CSL side Guangzhou Evergrande.
Bluewings Head Coach Kim Joon-sik knew avoiding defeat in the Champions League fixture with Frontale would be enough to secure a place in the next round of the competition – before the final group game against Guangzhou Evergrande.
However, their Japanese counterparts had other ideas on Tuesday evening at the Suwon World Cup Stadium.
After a scrappy opening interrupted by offsides and niggling fouls, the home side took an early initiative of attacking play with Park Gi-Dong firing wide after being set up by his strike partner Yeom Ki-Hun, mid-way through the first half.
The visitors nearly punished Bluewings on the counter shortly after, through forward Hiroyuki Abe, but his attempt was dealt with effectively after being set up by midfielder Kentaro Moriya.
Min Sang-Gi then saw his header saved expertly by goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong before a flurry of end-to-end attacks. Despite the intent from both sides to venture forward, the opening half ended goalless.
With the home side still on course for qualification, it took just two minutes into the second-half for panic to set in.
48' GOAL!! 1-0 @frontale_staff!
— FOX Sports Football (@FOXSportsFC) April 25, 2017
Midfielder Kengo Nakamura's whipped set-piece was met by the centre-back, and he rose above two defenders to produce a powerful header to beat Shin Hwa-yong in goal.
This proved to be the only goal of the game as Toru Oniki's side pulled off a memorable away victory against the South Korean side to revive their hopes of securing a place in the last-16.
After five games, Bluewings still lead the group with eight points to the visitors' seven but in the final game, the K League side face Luiz Felipe Scolari's Chinese Super League Champions Guangzhou Evergrande.
The CSL side have the chance of moving top of the group when they play winless Eastern on Tuesday.