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Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010

Antlers triumph in ACL opener

KASHIMA, Ibaraki Pref. (Kyodo) A first-half header from Koji Nakata was enough to see Kashima Antlers past China's Changchun Yatai 1-0 on Tuesday, but Kawasaki Frontale suffered a 2-0 reverse away to Seongnam Ilhwa in the opening round of matches in the Asian Champions League.

Nakata netted what turned out to be the decider in the 42nd minute of a scrappy Group F affair to give the J. League champions the perfect start, while Kawasaki will feel unlucky to have come away from its Group E match empty-handed after controlling for long periods in South Korea.

"We had plenty of opportunities to score but we defended solidly and didn't allow our opponents chances and that will give us confidence," said Kashima manager Oswaldo Oliveira.

In Seongnam, South Korea, two-time quarterfinalist Kawasaki fell behind 10 minutes before the break when Mauricio Molina raced onto a through ball from Dzenan Radoncic to slide home.

The visitors dominated the second half but were unable to find a way past Seongnam goalkeeper Jung Sung Ryong, who pulled off excellent saves from Chong Tese and Yusuke Mori before Molina returned the favor 12 minutes from time, setting up Radoncic to smash home the second.

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