Late strike sinks Mariners

The Central Coast Mariners are in serious danger of failing to qualify for the knockout phase of the Asian Champions League after losing to Japan's Kawasaki Frontale 2-1 on Tuesday night.

The Central Coast Mariners are in serious danger of failing to qualify for the knockout phase of the Asian Champions League after losing to Japan's Kawasaki Frontale 2-1 on Tuesday night.

With two matches remaining in the preliminary round, and the top two from each group progressing to the last 16, Central Coast trails second-placed Pohang Steelers by four points.

Conversely, the result all but assured the Kawasaki a place in the last 16.

Brazilian substitute Renatinho struck nine minutes from time in monsoon conditions to maintain Kawasaki's unbeaten record in the competition and move the J.League side onto 10 points from four games at the top of Group H.

After a goalless first half, Frontale took the lead through Brazilian striker Juninho just seconds after the restart, capitalising on Danny Vukovic only being able to parry Jong Te-se's header to score from close range.

Central Coast had lost the previous meeting between the two teams 5-0 but managed to put up a more significant fight in the rematch, pulling level in the 59th minute when Andrew Clark's lofted ball was steered home by Matt Simon.

Three minutes later, Dan Heffernan almost gave his side the lead with a header while Adam Kwasnik also went close for the visitors.

But, with just nine minutes remaining, Renatinho gave Kawasaki all three points when he headed home after Hiryuki Taniguchi turned Kengo Nakamura's corner into his path.