Kashiwa Reysol claimed the J.League title today with a 3-1 victory over Urawa Red Diamonds today, making history by becoming the first team to win the championship following promotion as well as booking their place at the FIFA Club World Cup.
The title race had come down to a dramatic three-team showdown, with just two points separating the Kashiwa from Nagoya Grampus and Gamba Osaka. In reality though league leaders rarely looked troubled. Jorge Wagner struck first, reacting quickest when the ball rebounded off the post, and then Wataru Hashimoto scored a spectacular overhead kick to put them two goals to the good against the 15th-placed Urawa.
A 52nd minute goal from Yosuke Kashiwagi gave hope to Nagoya and Gamba by cutting Kashiwa’s lead to a single goal, but Akira Barada was on hand 15 minutes from time with his first goal of the season to sew up their second championship title in two years, having been promoted as J.League 2 champions. They will now contest in the Club World Cup, being hosted by Japan, in five days’ time, kicking off the annual competition against Oceanic club champions Auckland City FC.
"We prepared for this day from the very first day of the season,'' Kashiwa coach Nelsinho said. "The players did everything I asked of them to achieve this goal.''
"It was my first goal of the season and it couldn't have come at a better time,'' Hashimoto said. "The reason we won this year is that everyone contributed.''
Both Nagoya and Gamba did their bit to keep themselves in the mix for the title, should Kashiwa have collapsed at Urawa, winning 1-0 and 3-1 respectively against Alibrex Niigata and Shimuzu S-Pulse. Keiji Tamada scored the only goal as Nagoya hoped to cling onto the title they won in 2010, while a brace from Keun-Ho Lee saw Gamba overturn a one goal deficit to come out victorious, but ultimately to no avail.
Nagoya manager Dragan Stojkovic said: "The (title) race was very interesting until the end of the season. Kashiwa Reysol deserved to be the champions. They were in the first place. We have won the last six games but were not good enough. But we played good football and we have no regrets. We are proud of ourselves."