KASHIMA: Defending Asian champions Kashima Antlers will take a slender advantage into next week's second leg of their AFC Champions League last 16 clash after edging Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-0 at home on Tuesday (Jun 18).
Sanfrecce, who finished with 10 men after Sho Inagaki received a second yellow card in the 86th minute, enjoyed the lion's share of pressure, but were toothless in front of goal
They looked vulnerable to the counter-attack as they pushed up, and so it proved as Kashima took advantage in the 24th minute when a long clearance fell to Shoma Doi.
The attacking midfielder drove down the left and into the Hiroshima box where his cross looped up off Yuki Nogami's attempted block for Brazilian striker Serginho to head in from close range for his third goal of this year's competition.
Douglas Vieira enjoyed the best chance for the visitors, but turned and blasted wastefully over the bar when finding himself unmarked on the penalty spot from a 38th-minute corner.
Hiroshima were camped in the Kashima half for much of the second period of the first all-Japanese AFC Champions league last 16 clash since 2011.
Although the in-form Sanfrecce arrived in Ibaraki Prefecture on the back of five consecutive AFC Champions League victories, they rarely threatened Kashima's Korean goalkeeper Kwoun Sun-tae.