Played at the Kashima City Stadium, the Reds took the lead after earlier chances to both sides when Lucas Pantelis whipped a cross in from the left side that took a deflection from a defensive header only for skipper Travis Dodd to head home with a fantastic reflex reaction.
The 37th minute goal was equalled out just before half-time when defender Robert Cornthwaite made a costly defensive blunder from a Kashima cross that somehow saw the ball in the back of the Reds net.
Reds keeper Eugene Galekovic was fantastic in goals, thwarting many Kashima attempts in the second half and eventually playing a major role in earning a point away from home against 2007’s J-League champions.
Coach Aurelio Vidmar was proud of his charges but knew there was plenty of hard work ahead.
He said, “The team worked well collectively but we’ve still got a lot of work to do because it’s over two legs.
“I was pleased with the quality of the entire team and they worked the hardest they ever have this season.”
The return leg at Hindmarsh Stadium next Wednesday the 24th September is now a very enticing encounter, placing the Reds on the verge of an ACL Semi Final and a place in Australian club soccer history.