J.League Classic Match: #5 Aggregate score 4-3 – Hiroshima lift the trophy for the third time

J.League Classic Match: #5 Aggregate score 4-3 – Hiroshima lift the trophy for the third time

The 2015 season was the first campaign since 2004 in which clubs competed over two stages. At the end of the season, the "Championship Stage” was played among winners of half-season and highly ranked teams on overall standings.

The qualified clubs were Urawa Reds who won the First Stage and came in second on the overall standings, Sanfrecce Hiroshima who won the Second Stage and finished at the top of the overall standings, and Gamba Osaka who came in third on the overall standings. Gamba beat Urawa in the semifinal to face Hiroshima, the top team of the overall table, in the two legs final.

The first leg at Gamba’s home was a goal galore. Gamba broke the deadlock early in the second half, thanks to a mistake of the opponents, but Hiroshima showed an incredible fighting spirit in the final of the match. In the 80th minute, substitute Yoshifumi Kashiwa scored an equalizer from Douglas’ cross. Although Gamba regained their lead immediately, they were reduced to 10 men in the 86th minute when one of their players got sent off. Sho Sasaki pulled level in the first minute of the additional time, and in the 90+6th minute, Kashiwa found the winner though a close-range shot. Sanfrecce won the first leg 3-2 thanks to the two goals in additional time.

With three away goals, Hiroshima were in a comfortable position in the second leg at home. After Gamba took the lead in the 27th minute, Takuma Asano equalized in the 76th minute. Their solid defense endured Gamba’s intensive attacks, and the match anded on the 1-1 result.

The aggregate score was 4-3. After showing their strength throughout the season, Hiroshima pushed aside Gamba’s great effort, and became the league champions for the third time.