Wanderers concede two late to lose in Japan
Western Sydney Wanderers Asian Champions League playoff hopes have taken a knock after they conceded two late goals to lose 2-1 away to Japan's Kawasaki Frontale.
Wanderers led for much of the match through a 24th minute header from Labinot Haliti.
After defending stoutly and riding their luck, the obdurate Wanderers defence cracked twice in the last 20 minutes on Tuesday (local time) after enduring massive second half pressure.
The result moved Kawasaki level on points with the Wanderers with two rounds to go.
Western Sydney retain second spot ahead of Kawasaki only by virtue of having scored more goals than the Japanese side over the first four rounds.
Frontale levelled in the 74th minute, when Antony Golec deflected a shot from Kawasaki captain Kengo Nakamura past his own goalkeeper Ante Covic.
Kawasaki's 88th minute winner came from another midfielder, Kyota Ohshima, who fired a 25-metre shot past a possibly unsighted Covic.
"Obviously disappointed at the second half, but I think that they showed they are a good team," Haliti said.
"We always knew that they were going to come at us.
"We got the lead in the first half, but the second half they came more at us and unfortunately (we) just fell short tonight."
While it was cruel on Wanderers, they could have no complaints as the home team created many more chances.
Haliti, who cored the winner in the home game against Kawasaki, took advantage of inept goalkeeping and marking to head home Dean Heffernan's wickedly inswinging corner.
Covic had just one shot to save in the first half, but Wanderers were lucky not to concede a penalty when Golec appeared to get away with a handball.
Kawasaki picked up the pace in the last 15 minutes of the first half and Covic and his defence worked overtime after the break,
Brazilian Renato produced a string of crosses from the left and also had four shots, two of them saved by Covic. Yasuhito Morishima smashed a shot against the crossbar.
Wanderers' striker Tomi Juric had one second half shot comfortably saved and right at the death produced a dangerous cross, which no teammate was able to connect with.