Sydney FC has started their AFC Champions League campaign in defeat, going down 2-0 to Urawa Red Diamonds in Saitama on Wednesday night.
An early Yuki Moto strike and a second half penalty from substitute Koroki Shinzoh was enough for the home side, who dominated for large periods.
In their first ACL tilt in five years, Sky Blues boss Graham Arnold would have hoped for a better start but they’ll need to dust themselves off quickly with Chinese giants Guangzhou Evergrande heading to Sydney next week.
It was the worst possible start for the Sky Blues as indecision in the box from Zac Anderson allowed Muto to sneak in and slam it past Vedran Janjetovic inside eight minutes.
Sydney survived an early onslaught from the home side before eventually getting a foothold in the contest, with Andrew Hoole almost equalising after a defensive error by Yuki Abe.
Only an incredible goal-line clearance by Chris Naumoff saved the visitors going further behind just before the break, somehow keeping the ball out from Makino Tomoaki’s close-range bicycle kick.
Anderson went close to making amends for his early error as Sydney made a bright start to the second half.
The ball fell to the defender about six yards from goal and he blasted a powerful shot which Nishikawa kept out with his head.
Urawa then doubled their lead midway through the second half after Janjetovic brought down Koroki for a penalty, which the substitute duly dispatched.
Arnold brought on Alex Brosque and Milos Ninkovic to try and spark his side and it almost worked, with Matt Jurman inches away from pulling one back with seven minutes left.
A corner was flicked on at the near post right into the path of Jurman who blazed over the bar from just a couple of metres out and with that Sydney’s chances were gone.