Asia/Oceania leagues review
The weekend in Asia and Oceania was highlighted by a fourth K-League championship for FC Seoul. In Japan there was drama, despite the league title have long been claimed by Nagoya Grampus, with jostling to claim AFC Champions League berths and an intense battle to avoid relegation. FIFA.com’s weekly review also takes in the action in Australia, New Zealand and Iran.
Japan J.League: Gamba seal second
Having clinched their maiden league title a fortnight ago, new J.League champions Nagoya Grampus rounded off their campaign in winning fashion with a 2-1 home victory over Sanfrecce Hiroshima. Gamba Osaka came away from Shimizu S-Pulse with a 3-0 win to seal second, while Cerezo Osaka had to settle for third after thumping Jubilo Iwata 6-2 in a typical last-day goal-fest. At the other end of the table, FC Tokyo lost 2-0 away at the already-relegated Kyoto Purple Sanga and the capital club will now play in the second division next season, as will bottom side Shonan Bellmare.
Big game: Vissel Kobe emerged victors in the relegation battle to maintain their place in the top flight. Despite trailing a point behind FC Tokyo going into the final round, Kobe rallied to stun J.League colossus Urawa Red Diamonds 4-0 and avoid relegation at the expanse of FC Tokyo.
Headline-grabber: Brazilian striker Adriano struck four times as Cerezo produced the biggest win in the concluding round. The result, coupled with Kashima Antlers' 1-1 draw against Vegalta Sendai, saw Cerezo edge into third ahead of the defending champions and thus claim a coveted berth in next year's AFC Champions League.
Australia A-League: Frontrunners stumble
The two leading teams in the A-League failed to register wins on the weekend though leaders Brisbane Roar managed to extend their lead to seven points as second-placed Adelaide United lost on the road against Wellington Phoenix. The Roar though needed an injury-time equaliser from Matt McKay to maintain their 15-match unbeaten run. Melbourne Victory had overturned a two-goal deficit with Robbie Kruse scoring a double only to concede with virtually the kick of the match. There was similar late pain for Adelaide who conceded a 94th minute goal to lose 2-1 against the Phoenix with All Whites defender Ben Sigmund making a rare but crucial appearance on the scoresheet.
Big game: The poor form of Sydney FC continued with the champions overpowered 4-0 by local rivals Central Coast Mariners. A three-goal blitz inside the opening 23 minutes effectively ended the contest with the three points ensuring the Mariners stayed fourth.
Headline-grabber: Jason Culina capped a typically high-energy performance with a brace as Gold Coast United defeating Melbourne Heart 3-0. The Socceroo midfielder took his tally to five for the season after missing the previous match with a knee injury.
Iran Pro League: Zob Ahan back on top
A 3-2 home victory over Pas Hamadan on Friday sent Esteghlal to the summit of the Iran Pro League, though their joy proved to be short-lived. AFC Champions League finalists Zob Ahan regained top spot 24 hours later thanks to a 2-0 victory over Steel Azin. Mes Kerman remained third after defeating Rah Ahan by an identical scoreline while Sepahan moved a place up to fourth courtesy of their 4-1 triumph against Saipa. With two more games still in hand, the defending champions remain among the favourites despite trailing six points off the pace.
Big game: Ibrahima Toure was the three-goal hero as Sepahan dismantled Saipa on Friday. The prolific Senegal forward struck twice in a space of two minutes just before the break to steer his side into a two-goal lead before completing his treble in the second half.
Headline-grabber: Despite the top teams all being victorious, there was a major surprise as Persepolis suffering an unexpected 3-0 defeat at Peykan. The Tehran heavyweights dropping to fifth with the defeat.
The curtain went down on K-League season on Sunday with FC Seoul crowned Korea Republic kings after edging out Jeju United 4-3 on aggregate in the two-legged championship play-off final. After the opening meeting ended in 2-2 draw on Wednesday, it was the capital side, top-finishers of the regular season, who triumphed. Jung Jo-Gook cancelling out Santos' opening goal before Adilson sealed the title 18 minutes from time. The victory marked FC Seoul’s fourth league title but their first since the club returned to the capital in 2004.
New Zealand Football Championship leaders Waitakere United hold a healthy seven-point lead at the top despite not playing at the weekend due to OFC O-League commitments. The chasing pack led by Canterbury United, were only able to trim one point off the deficit. Canterbury held 2-2 after twice being pegged back by Waikato FC, for whom Milos Nicolic scored a double. In the only other match of the round Otago United won 2-1 at fellow cellar-dwellers YoungHeart Manawatu.