Newcastle Jets have stumbled at the final hurdle of Asian Champions League qualification with the competition's reigning champions, Kashima Antlers, running out 4-1 winners in their play-off match.
Despite not playing competitively in over two months, Kashima started the brighter of the two sides and were rewarded with the opening goal in the 18th minute.
Sho Ito tapping the ball home after a back-heel flick from Serginho could only be parried onto the post by Jets keeper Glen Moss.
Though playing their third game in seven days, Newcastle didn't let their heads drop and found a swift equaliser in the 24th minute through Ronald Vargas.
The Venezuelan attacker was gifted a bit of space at the top of the box with his deflected effort enough to pull the Jets level.
Newcastle would however find themselves trailling again in the 32nd minute when Shuto Yamamoto headed home at the back post under little pressure from the Jets defence.
After the break, Kashima were awarded a penalty for a foul from Nigel Boogaard with Serginho making no mistake from the spot to make it 3-1 in the 67th minute.
Looking to defend their ACL crown, the Antlers never looked like slipping up in the final stages and wrapped up the game in stoppage time with Serginho slotting home a cross at the back post.