Kashima defend J-league crown

Kashima Antlers beat Consadole Sapporo to seal their second straight J-League title and their sixth overall on Saturday, finishing three points clear of Kawasaki Frontale.

Midfielder Takuya Nozawa fired home the title-winning goal from outside the area 35 minutes into the final game of the season, taking his team to a total of 63 points at the top of the 18-team first division.

Kawasaki finished on 60 points with Nagoya Grampus in third place, a further point adrift.

"Our team often wins when we score the first goal of a game, so we wanted to score a goal as quickly as possible. That resulted in this victory," said a jubilant Nozawa.

"We also won the title by winning the last game last season, but I feel something different in today's victory. We had some tough times and everybody did his best to get past those times with a strong will to win the title."

Kashima's Brazilian coach Oswaldo Oliveira said: "It's not easy to win the title for a second straight year, so I'm really happy to achieve such a difficult goal."

"We have many excellent players and we were able to play in good conditions. This is a victory that remains in my mind throughout my life. We played some high-level games. That's why we were solid even when the times were tough," he added.

Kawasaki beat Tokyo Verdy 2-0 to send their opponents into the second division, along with Consadole Sapporo, while Nagoya were held to a goalless draw by Oita Trinita.

JEF United Chiba recovered from two goals down to beat FC Tokyo 4-2 to secure their place in the first division, while Jubilo Iwata lost to Omiya Ardija 1-0 to finish third from bottom.

Iwata now face a play-off against the third-placed team in the second division as they battle to retain their top-flight status.

In other games, Urawa Red Diamonds crashed to a humiliating 6-1 defeat to Yokohama Marinos, Albirex Niigata edged past Gamba Osaka 3-2, Shimizu S-Pulse defeated Kyoto Purple Sanga 3-1 and Kashiwa Reysol beat Vissel Kobe 2-0.