Antlers floor Reds to win J-League ti­tle

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Kashima Antlers stunned peren­nial chok­ers Urawa Reds 2-1 away yes­ter­day to win their eighth Ja­panese ti­tle on away goals af­ter an ab­sorb­ing two­legged cham­pi­onship fi­nal.

A Mu Kanazaki dou­ble crushed Urawa’s dreams of a first J-League ti­tle in 2006, the striker smash­ing home a late penalty to com­plete an im­prob­a­ble turn­around af­ter they were beaten 1-0 at home ear­lier in the week.

“What­ever the points to­tals were over the sea­son, we were des­per­ate to be JLeague cham­pi­ons,” said Antlers coach Masa­tada Ishii, who side fin­ished 15 points be­hind Urawa over the sea­son’s two stages.

“I’m so proud of the play­ers for bat­tling to the end. Ev­ery­one in­volved with the club can be proud of what we’ve achieved to­day.”

The Reds looked set to ex­or­cise the ghosts of sev­eral re­cent ti­tle slips when Shinzo Koroki volleyed the home side in front af­ter just seven min­utes in Saitama, north of Tokyo.

But Kanazaki’s div­ing header gave Kashima a life­line five min­utes be­fore the break and he con­verted from the spot in the 80th minute to give his side their first cham­pi­onship since 2009.

The Antlers, who also booked a spot in this month’s FIFA Club World Cup, cel­e­brated in front of the deliri­ous away fans as Urawa’s for­lorn play­ers slumped to the turf in dis­be­lief.

“We won fair and square un­der the rules,” said Antlers cap­tain Mit­suo Oga­sawara. “All the play­ers came to­gether, we be­lieved in each other and got the job done when it counted.” — AFP

SAITAMA: Kashima Antlers’ Mit­suo Oga­sawara (40) cel­e­brates with tro­phies af­ter beat­ing Urawa Reds 2-1 in their sec­ond leg soc­cer match of the J-League Cham­pi­onship Fi­nal at Saitama Sta­dium in Saitama, near Tokyo, yes­ter­day. Kashima claimed their eighth ti­tle. — AP

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