Kashima Antlers have a slender lead over Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the AFC Champions League 2019 Round of 16 after claiming a 1-0 win in Tuesday’s first leg at the Kashima Soccer Stadium.
The deadlock was broken in the 24th minute as Kashima hit the visitors with a sweeping attack that started with Serginho flicking a long ball into the path of Shoma Doi.
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Doi proceeded to embark on an enterprising charge from just inside the Kashima half intot he box before his cross took a deflection and looped over a stranded Hirotsugu Nakabayashi, allowing Serginho to nip in ahead of Sho Sasaki and head into the unguarded goal from a couple of yards out.
However, Sanfrecce did have their chances to equalise with two decent opportunities coming just after the half-hour mark; Daiki Watari sending an effort inches wide of the far post while Douglas Vieira wastefully blazed over after being left unmarked at a corner.
As the game wore on, Kashima looked increasingly content to hold out for the one-goal win and were largely able to stifle the visitors.
Highlights – Kashima Antlers vs Sanfrecce Hiroshima
And, with four minutes remaining, Sanfrecce’s frustrations eventually boiled over as Sho Inagaki was sent off for a second bookable offence after a late challenge, further souring his team’s evening as the hosts claimed the advantage ahead of next week’s return encounter.
KASHIMA ANTLERS: Kwoun Sun-tae, Ryota Nagaki, Jung Seung-hyun, Tomoya Inukai, Koki Anzai (Koki Machida 73’), Yasushi Endo (Sho Ito 81’), Kento Misao, Leo Silva, Ryohei Shirasaki (Kazuma Yamaguchi 90’), Shoma Doi, Serginho.
SANFRECCE HIROSHIMA: Hirotsugu Nakabayashi, Yuki Nogami, Kyohei Yoshino, Sho Sasaki, Kohei Shimizu (Shunki Higashi 80’), Hayao Kawabe (Patric 74’), Sho Inagaki, Yoshifumi Kashiwa, Tsukasa Morishima, Daiki Watari (Kosei Shibasaki 65’), Douglas Vieira.