Kawasaki win J-League title

Tokyo: Kawasaki Frontale claimed a fourth J-League title win in five seasons on Wednesday and confirmed their place in the 2022 AFC Champions League as Toru Oniki’s side successfully defended the trophy thanks to a 1-1 draw with Urawa Red Diamonds at Todoroki Stadium.

The draw, coupled with a 1-0 loss for second-placed Yokohama F Marinos against Gamba Osaka, means Oniki’s team hold an unassailable 13-point advantage at the summit with four games remaining in the season.

The title success is Kawasaki’s second in a row with the club having reclaimed the trophy last year from Marinos, the champions in 2019. Frontale previously won in 2017 and 2018.
Oniki’s side went into Wednesday’s game with a 12-point advantage over Yokohama and knew that securing the same or better result than that achieved by Kevin Muscat’s side would clinch the title.
Urawa had looked the most likely to open the scoring when Takahiro Sekine’s 26th minute effort was cleared off the line by Shogo Taniguchi but, with 12 minutes left in the half, Frontale took the lead.
Reds’ defence only half-cleared Yasuto Wakizaka’s corner, allowing Miki Yamane to send the ball back into the six yard box, where Jesiel pounced after Leandro Damiao had initially connected with the cross.
However, with a little over a minute left Urawa levelled the scores when Hiroki Sakai pounced six yards from goal to claim an unlikely equaliser that also keeps Reds’ hopes of qualifying for the AFC Champions League alive.
Sakai’s equaliser meant the Frontale players had to wait for confirmation of the result in Yokohama before they were able to begin celebrating.
Kawasaki’s title win was soon confirmed, however, with Gamba notching up a 1-0 win courtesy of a goal 10 minutes into the second half from Shu Kurata that killed off Marinos’ hopes of a second title in three years.
But Muscat’s side have already guaranteed they will be involved in next year’s AFC Champions League with Marinos certain to finish in the top three positions.

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