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Roma's chance to bounce back

AS Roma
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By ESPN Staff

Urawa Reds win first Japanese championship

TOKYO, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Urawa Reds won Japan's J-League championship for the first time after a 3-2 home win over Gamba Osaka on Saturday.

Brazilian striker Washington scored twice as Japan's best-supported side overpowered Gamba in front of a crowd of 62,000 in Saitama.

'We have been working for this for three years,' Urawa's German manager Guido Buchwald told reporters. 'We try to attack and play tight defence. The great support the team has was another factor in this championship.'

Buchwald, who was part of the Germany team that won the World Cup in 1990, is set to leave the Reds after three years in charge and return to Germany after the Japanese season-ending Emperor's Cup.

Last year's champions Gamba came into the match needing to win by a three-goal margin to take the title for the second year running.

Urawa endured a nervous opening and Brazilian Magno Alves gave the Reds a real fright when he put the visitors ahead from close range in the 22nd minute.

But Robson Ponte's 28th-minute reply effectively ended Gamba's slim title hopes before Washington blasted in Urawa's second on the stroke of halftime.

Washington's second goal was his 26th of the campaign, equalling Magno Alves's tally as the Brazilian pair finished the season as the J-League's top scorers.

Urawa finished with 72 points from 34 games. Kawasaki Frontale leapfrogged Gamba to claim the runners-up spot on 67 points after beating Cerezo Osaka 3-1.

Gamba finished third on 66 points while crosstown rivals Cerezo were relegated following their home defeat by Frontale.