A goal by Yusuke Minagawa after just 8 minutes set Auckland City FC’s fate in motion when a ball into the penalty area was palmed by goalkeeper Jacob Spoonley into the path of Minagawa who stabbed home from close range.
The goal looked to be scored from an offside position but the assistant referee disagreed leaving Auckland City FC’s game plan in tatters.
Tsukasa Shiotani delivered the fatal blow with 21 minutes left after his weak shot took a deflection off Marko Dordevic before squeezing under Spoonley’s body.
Only a fine save from Spoonley, low to his left, prevented Douglas from scoring Sanfrecce’s third. He connected with a powerful header to Kashiwa’s cross from the right, but the All White international was equal to it.
The visitors best chance in the second half came when Joao Moreira fired over the crossbar from the edge of the box on the hour mark.
Despite that, there was a distinct gap for Auckland City FC to overcome nonetheless against a side packed with pace, power and finishing ability but more vitally, quality in depth.
And that quality shone through late in the match when Hiroshima looked capable of scoring on every break as Auckland City FC legs tired.
Coach Ramon Tribulietx was philososphical at the final whistle.
“We conceded an early goal and that made the game a little bit harder for us and they sat deep and made sure we didn’t score an equaliser.
“We had 67 percent possession and while that doesn’t win games we have to be proud we have achieved something like that coming from a country like New Zealand.
“We have proved to the world that we can keep the ball and we hope we can bypass situations like this in the future and keep growing as a team,” he said.
Tribulietx watched his team toil in the latter stages as they committed more players forward in search of a goal and could only watch on as Hiroshima deployed their top scorer Douglas into action.
“They’ve got some players up front on the counter attack who benefit from spaces and they won the game 2-0 so we need to learn from this.
“The goal early on set up a very difficult game for us and made it easy for them. They brought Douglas on in the second half and he is someone who can hurt you on the counter.
“The first goal came from a corner and we wanted to defend it two versus one but the player got a shot in and maybe we could’ve defended that differently, so maybe I got that wrong. I’ll certainly learn from this mistake.
“The second goal was a shot at close distance and with a wet pitch it was difficult for Jacob to stop,” he said.
Hiroshima now move on to face a quarter-final with TP Mazembe in Osaka.
Auckland City FC’s final match of an eventful year is away to WaiBOP United in the ASB Premiership on December 20.
FIFA Club World Cup play-off
Thursday 10 December, 2015
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2 (Minagawa 8′, Shiotani 69′)
Auckland City FC 0
Halftime: 1-0.
For more on Auckland City FC visit aucklandcityfc.com