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Frontale win fourth J-League title in five years

Kawasaki (Japan) (AFP) – Kawasaki Frontale won their fourth J-League title in five years on Wednesday, drawing 1-1 with Urawa Reds to open up an unassailable 13-point lead with four games remaining.

Second-place Yokohama F. Marinos needed to match Frontale’s result in their game against Gamba Osaka — which kicked off at the same time — to keep their title hopes alive.

But a 1-0 defeat for Marinos handed the trophy to defending champions Frontale, who can also claim a second straight league-and-cup double before the season is over.

Frontale dominated the J-League from start to finish, going top of the table after two games and staying there all season.

Marinos cut the gap to one point over the summer, but Frontale put together a seven-game winning streak to pull clear heading into Wednesday’s game.

They have lost only once so far this season, and have racked up a J-League record 85 points with four games still to play.

The J-League’s relaxed attendance restrictions meant Frontale welcomed a national holiday crowd of 11,600 for the early afternoon kick-off against Urawa.

Brazilian defender Jesiel Miranda broke the deadlock in the 33rd minute, poking home a scrappy goal after a headed knock-down from compatriot Leandro Damiao.

But the crowd had to be content with a round of applause to celebrate, with cheering and singing still banned at J-League grounds because of the coronavirus.

A 55th-minute goal for Gamba against Marinos sent a wave of expectation throughout the stadium, and Frontale held on despite an 89th-minute equaliser from Urawa’s Hiroki Sakai.

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