Asian Football Confederation - Champions League 2013

Kashiwa sink 3
but Mariners also progress
by Chris Dunkerley

Group H - Round 2 - 6th Leg
8:30pm, Tuesday 30 April, 2013
at Central Coast Stadium, Gosford

Central Coast Mariners FC 0
lost to
Kashiwa Reysol FC 3
(Kudo 59’, Cleo 79’ Domingues 86’)

AFC Reporting: A-League Grand Final winners Central Coast Mariners became only the third A-League side to reach the last 16 of the AFC Champions League despite suffering a 3-0 defeat at home by Group H runaway winners Kashiwa Reysol FC 'Sun Kings' on Tuesday night.

Masato Kudo opened the scoring for the Japanese Emperor’s Cup winners, who had already secured their place in the knockout stage as group winners, just before the hour mark with Brazilian duo Cleo (Cléverson Gabriel Córdova) and Leandro Domingues (Leandro Domingues Barbosa) sealing the win in the closing stages.

But with Guizhou Renhe only managing a 2-2 draw with Suwon Bluewings in China, Central Coast held onto second place by a point to follow in the footsteps of Adelaide United, who reached the final in 2008 and the quarter-finals last season, and Newcastle Jets

And Central Coast will face either Chinese Super League champions Guangzhou Evergrande or former AFC Champions League winners Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in the last 16 next month with the winner of Group F to be decided on Wednesday.

“It’s a wonderful history making moment for the club. It’s a fantastic achievement for the smallest club in Australia to get to the last 16 in Asia,” said Mariners coach Graham Arnold.

“We got beat 3-0 against a classy opposition. I thought we were really good value for the first 60 minutes but when they got the goal against the run of play we went man-on-man across the park and tried to press high and that gave them more space and then when you give quality players more space they hurt you and that’s what they did. “We couldn’t rely on the other result; we had to try and get it back and win the game ourselves.”

Following a tight first half, Central Coast came close to opening the scoring four minutes after half-time as Daniel McBreen’s close range shot was blocked on the line by Kim Chang-soo.

And 10 minutes later Kashiwa took full advantage as Ryoichi Kurisawa’s slide-rule pass split the Mariners defence and Kudo raced in behind before guiding an angled coolly strike past Mat Ryan for his third goal of the campaign.

Cleo added a second with 11 minutes remaining as the ball broke kindly for the striker inside the penalty area as he tried to combine with compatriot Leandro Domingues and the Brazilian beat Ryan from close range.

And with five minutes remaining Ryan was unable to keep out Leandro Domingues’ free-kick as Kashiwa sealed their unbeaten record in Group H with a third win of the campaign.

Despite the home side having controlled much of the first half, once the soft first goal went in the Mariners had to opne up to snatch a goal back. Then it was the clear gulf in quality of their much more illustrious and hugely better funded opponents that counted.

The Central Coast Mariners FC progressed to the knockout phase (of 16) of the competition courtesy of Guizhou Renhe FC's draw at home with winless Suwon Bluewings FC of South Korea. They will play either Rosyen Griffiths GUANGZHOU EVERGRANDE FC of China or Alex Wilkinson's JEONBUK HYUNDAI MOTORS (South Korea).

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