Soccer-Kawasaki retain Japanese title despite late Urawa equaliser
(Reuters) - Kawasaki Frontale continued their dominance of Japanese football on Wednesday after a 1-1 draw with Urawa Red Diamonds guaranteed Toru Oniki's side a fourth top flight title in five seasons.
The draw, coupled with a 1-0 loss for nearest rivals Yokohama F Marinos against Gamba Osaka, wrapped up the title with four games to spare for Frontale, who also won the trophy in 2017, 2018 and 2020.
Brazilian defender Jesiel gave them the lead 12 minutes before half-time at Todoroki Stadium, but Hiroki Sakai's 89th minute equaliser delayed the celebrations for Kawasaki's players.
Marinos had to at least match Frontale's result to extend the campaign but Shu Kurata's 55th strike earned Gamba an unlikely win and effectively confirmed Kawasaki as champions.
Kawasaki and Yokohama will represent Japan in next season's Asian Champions League while Urawa remain in contention to claim the league's third berth.
Frontale, who went into Wednesday's game with a 12-point lead over Marinos, almost went behind in the 26th minute when Shogo Taniguchi cleared Takahiro Sekine's effort off the line.
The home side took the lead seven minutes later when Miki Yamane's centre fell at the feet of Jesiel and the Brazilian slotted past Urawa goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa.
However, Japan international full back Sakai struck from close range to earn Urawa a draw with less than two minutes left, delaying Frontale's celebrations until the result in Yokohama was confirmed.
(Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Peter Rutherford)
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