The class of title-holders Kashima Antlers won through as a gallant Newcastle Jets went down 4-1 in their AFC Champions League qualifier on Tuesday night in Japan.
Starting at Kashima Soccer Stadium with five players at the back, the Jets absorbed early pressure from the defending ACL champions before Roy O'Donovan's long-range strike forced a full-stretch save from Antlers goalkeeper Kwoun Sun-tae in the 14th minute.
The eight-time J-League champions, though, were quickly back on the attack in the rainy conditions.
Hiroki Abe's volleyed shot was stopped by Jets keeper Glen Moss in the 17th minute but Kashima went ahead a minute later via a Sho Ito tap-in. Leo Silva's strike through traffic was cleverly deflected by Serginho and Moss dived to knock it onto the post, only for it to sit on the goalline for Ito.
The Jets equalised on 23 minutes when Ronny Vargas' shot took a huge deflection off a Kashima defender to leave Kwoun stranded.
Moss was outstanding in the 27th minute, stopping one-on-one strikes from Ito and Shuto Yamamoto, but the latter wasn't to be denied five minutes later.
Yamamoto capitalised on hesitation from Johnny Koutroumbis to power in a far-post header off a floating cross from Koki Anzai.
Moss kept Newcastle in the contest with a brilliant low save to stop Serginho in the 61st minute, but the Brazilian made it 3-1 from the penalty spot in the 66th after Jets captain Nigel Boogaard fouled Silva.
Serginho grabbed a double in the first minute of injury time, finishing off a Kazuma Yamaguchi run and cross.
Jets coach Ernie Merrick summed up the game, saying: "Kashima were far too strong for us.
"They were very sharp, they're technically very good, and every time they got near our goals they were dangerous, so the better team won the game."
Newcastle, runners-up last season in the A-League but now seventh and six points outside the top six, made seven changes to the starting team that shocked Melbourne City 3-1 last Friday night at home.
The Jets defeated Indonesian club Persija Jakarta 3-1 in extra-time in Newcastle three nights earlier to set up the trip to Japan. They back up against Adelaide on Sunday at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Kashima move into ACL Group E with South Korean club Gyeongnam, Malaysian side Johor Darul Ta'zim and Chinese side Shandong Luneng.