Sanfrecce stave off Gamba comeback to lift title

Sanfrecce stave off Gamba comeback to lift title

Sanfrecce Hiroshima are the new Japanese champions, pipping Gamba Osaka to the title on Saturday.

A 1-1 draw in the second leg of the J.League championship final, combined with their first-leg 3-2 away win on Wednesday, was enough for Hajime Moriyasu’s men to see off the previous winners.

Desperate to defend their prize, Gamba tore out of the starting blocks with Takashi Usami enjoying an early chance before Yasuyuki Konno fired them into the lead in the 27th minute.

The midfielder diverted in Yasuhito Endo’s corner to spark talk of a comeback in the final, although it was the hosts who went on to finish the half in the ascendancy.

Moriyasu then performed his time-tested move of introducing Takuma Asano for veteran Hisato Sato before the hour mark, and the youngster once more proved his worth by netting the equalising header from fellow substitute Yoshifumi Kashiwa’s cross.

Sanfrecce were always in control from that point and held onto the result to celebrate the third title in their history after the final whistle.