After 26 rounds of play, the A-League nears the end of another exciting home-and-away season.
A late goal has left Sydney FC still winless in Champions League matches against Japanese opposition, with Kawasaki Frontale scoring a 1-0 home victory over the Sky Blues on Wednesday.
Substitute Manabu Saito pounced on a miscued 83rd minute clearance to squeeze a shot past Sydney goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne.
While the timing of the goal was cruel for Sydney, they could have no complaints about the outcome at Kawasaki Todoroki Stadium.
Kawasaki created far more chances, especially in the second half, when the Sky Blues were pinned in their own half for long periods.
The result leaves Sydney with just one point from two games, bottom of their group and winless in nine Champions League fixtures with Japanese clubs .
They defended stoutly and Redmayne kept them in the game with several saves.
The Sydney custodian produced acrobatic efforts to deny Leandro Damiao in the first half and Hidemasa Morita in the second and pulled off several less difficult stops to foil the home side until Saito struck.
Sydney had just two attempts on target.
But both captain Alex Brosque’s first half header and Anthony Caceres’ second half efforts were comfortably saved.
Kawasaki had a strong few minutes in the middle of the first half but Sydney came back well later in the stanza.
Coach Steve Corica made two changes to the side that started their opening Champions League game.
Brosque came in for Iranian striker Reza Ghoochannej and midfielder Josh Brillante was left out, after it was revealed a foreign club, believed to be South Korea’s Pohang Steelers, had expressed an interest in him.
“There has been overseas interest in Josh which meant he wasn’t in the right frame of mind for tonight’s game,” Sydney’s Twitter feed said.