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Posted: 2018-03-13 15:09:52

"I thought we were the better side, we deserved to win the game," Graham Arnold said.

"Disappointing to concede off a set piece again. Kashima have scored three goals against us, all three from corners – not a goal in general play."

Arnold wasn't lying when he said he would play some youngsters in the absence of regular stars Milos Ninkovic, Bobo, Michael Zullo and Brandon O'Neill, handing Chris Zuvela his competitive debut and Anthony Kalik his first start.

Judging by the sheer youth of Sydney's bench – only Charles Lokolingoy had played a single A-League minute this season – Arnold was prepared to sacrifice what sliver of continental hope remained in favour of seeing out his side's domestic domination before departing to coach the Socceroos.

For all that, it was two senior players at fault for Kashima's opener off a corner just before the half-hour mark.

A defensive mix-up between Brosque and Josh Brillante saw the latter head straight to Mu Kanazaki, who met the ball flush with his own head and didn't miss at the far post.

That blunder aside, the first-half incarnation of Sydney were far from uncomfortable but, although they pushed and probed, were mostly pedestrian in attack.

Adrian Mierzejewski carved a rare opening just before the break, flooding forward and playing in Kalik, but the 20-year-old's finish let him down.

With an hour gone and everything to do, Arnold introduced Lokolingoy and the Sky Blues sparked.

It pre-empted Mierzejewski's next foray and the Polish winger, overlooked on Tuesday for an international recall, passed to Luke Wilkshire.

The fullback's cross was spot on and Simon headed home, just in time to earn his second yellow card of the tournament and a suspension for matchday five.

It may not have ended there, and Brosque's tight-angled finish practically brushed the outside of the far post before Simon came close and Leo Silva missed a late shot for the hosts.


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