2018 winners Kashima Antlers dumped out of AFC Champions League 2020 by Melbourne Victory

Kashima Melbourne

Former Asian champions Kashima Antlers have missed out on a place in the group stages of AFC Champions League 2020 after a 1-0 defeat to Melbourne Victory in the play-off tie on Tuesday.

The ACL 2018 champions were beginning their continental campaign in the qualifiers this time around after finishing third in the J1 League last season and they were left stunned by the A-League visitors at the Kashima Soccer Stadium in the do-or-die clash.

The winning goal in the 54th minute came from the boots of Australia international winger Andrew Nabbout whose deflected shot from outside the box wrong-footed Kashima’s South Korean goalkeeper Kwoun Sun-tae and landed in the back of the net.

Antonio Carlos’ Kashima had hit the woodwork from an Everaldo Stum header in the first half and tried valiantly to find an equaliser after going down, but were denied by Victory shot-stopper Lawrence Thomas on a couple of occasions.

Victory will now join the group stages of the ACL 2020 where they will be pooled with China PR’s Beijing Guoan FC, Thailand’s Chiangrai United and Korea Republic’s FC Seoul, who overcame Malaysian opposition Kedah FA 4-1 in another play-off tie of the day.

Kashima, meanwhile, will miss out on a place in the group stages of the AFC Champions League for the first time since 2016.

Melbourne Victory had joined the ACL 2020 qualifiers in Preliminary Round 2 where they had defeated Indonesia Liga 1 outfit Bali United 5-0 last week to book a play-off berth.