Nagoya Grampus wins first J-League title
Nagoya Grampus claimed its first J-League championship with a 1-0 win over relegated Shonan Bellmare on Saturday.
Keiji Tamada's header in the 65th minute ensured that Dragan Stojkovic's side went 10 points clear of Kashima Antlers with three games left. Kashima, the three-time defending league champion, drew 0-0 draw at Vissel Kobe.
''I'm very happy and I'm very proud of our success here,'' Stojkovic said. ''We wrote a very important page in the history of Nagoya Grampus.''
Nagoya becomes the first team to win the title before the final weekend since the J-League went to a single season format in 2005.
Tamada, who has played at two World Cups, scored the winner when he raced to the far post to nod in Keita Sugimoto's cross.
Nagoya goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki played a big part in the win. The former Japan 'keeper had back-to-back saves in the 17th, stopping a free kick by Yoshiro Abe before turning away a shot from a corner.
Nagoya improved to 66 points and is on track to break the record for most points in a year of 72, shared by Antlers and the 2006 champion, Urawa Reds. Stojkovic's side has just three draws this season, and has not lost back-to-back games.