Kashiwa Reysol coach Tatsuma Yoshida has absolved his players of all blame following their 3-1 home loss to Guangzhou Evergrande in the first leg of the AFC Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday.
“The result shows that there is a real difference between the two teams, but although we lost the game, we will try our best to get a better result in the second leg,” Yoshida told the Asian Football Confederation website.
“Guangzhou are the strongest team left in the last eight and I don’t think my team played badly, we created chances but we were unable to finish well, but those mistakes are good to help the progress of the team in the future.”
Kashiwa went behind in the fifth minute when captain Daisuke Suzuki turned the ball into his own net from a free kick.
Brazil midfielder Paulinho then doubled the lead for Evergrande when he scored a stunning free kick in the 40th minute and China striker Gao Lin put the visitors 3-0 up when he headed in a cross in the 55th minute.
Yoshida rang the changes in the second half and though there were no immediate results, his substitutions would eventually make an impact.
“I didn’t change much at half-time, but I made some substitutions in the second half. This was not to blame the players, we just needed to change,” he said.
Kashiwa managed to reduce the deficit and earn themselves a lifeline for the second leg when striker Masato Kudo scored in the dying minutes of the match.