Honda heroics not enough as Victory fall to Sanfrecce

Keisuke Honda Melbourne Victory
The Japanese star made his presence felt on home soil, but it wasn't sufficient to secure a winning return

An inspired performance from Keisuke Honda wasn't enough for Melbourne Victory as Sanfrecce Hiroshima claimed a late 2-1 win in Japan

Looking for their first away win in Asia at their 20th attempt, Victory found themselves behind inside five minutes as Patric picked out Shunki Higashi in the box, who drilled the ball past Lawrence Thomas.

Led by Honda, who was playing his first club match in Japan in over a decade, Kevin Muscat's side dominated possession in the remainder of the first-half but struggled to break down a well-disciplined Sanfrecce defence. 

Hiroshima nearly doubled their lead just before the break only for Leigh Broxham to make a brilliant last-ditch challenge. 

After half-time, Sanfrecce emerged from their shell somewhat as they got forward with more intent but it was Victory that would pull level in the 72nd minute as Honda made the most of his return to Japan.

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The Victory star elegantly guiding a Storm Roux cross home to bring Melbourne level having been at the heart of his side's play all night.

Hiroshima looked rattled by the equaliser but managed to find the lead again in the 86th minute as a Daiki Watari header handed Sanfrecce a 2-1 lead. 

Victory unable to find a response as they slumped to consecutive group defeats and leave themselves with a mountain to climb to reach the knockout stages.