Sydney FC have fallen to a narrow 1-0 loss to Kawasaki Frontale with Steve Corica's side ultimately undone by their persistent Japanese opponents.
Looking for their first win in Japan, the Sky Blues were forced into a surprise change to their starting side with Josh Brillante omitted and the club revealing overseas interest was the reason.
With Paulo Retre called up to fill the void, Sydney FC took some time to find their feet with Kawasaki dominating possession early.
Andrew Redmayne was forced into a fine save in the 20th minute as Damiao tried his luck from distance.
The Sky Blues would grow into the game but neither side was able to break the deadlock in an even first 45 minutes.
After the break, Redmayne was again called into action by Kawasaki with a volley from Hidemasa Morita forcing the Sydney FC shot stopper into a desperate lunging save in the 59th minute.
Frontale continued to pile on the pressure with Ao Tanaka weaving his way into the box with 75 minutes gone and forcing Redmayne into another stop.
Kawasaki's dominance would eventually be rewarded in the 83rd minute as Manabu Saito found the bottom right corner after a cross was cleared right into his path.
Sydney FC were second best for much of the night and never truly troubled Frontale's goal as they dropped to bottom of Group H with the 1-0 defeat.