Japan’s Urawa Reds won the J1 League’s First Stage on Saturday, J-League’s oldest clubs re-emerge as champions.
Their 1-1 draw at Vissel Kobe put the undefeated club at 38 points, a figure too high for defending champions Gamba Osaka to overcome after they drew 1-1 against Vegalta Sendai.
The trophy marks Urawa’s first since 2007, when they beat Sepahan in that year’s AFC Champions League Final. Since then, they have finished runners-up twice in the J-League and an additional two times in the J.League Yamazaki Nabisco Cup.
As stage winners in the J-League’s revised competition format, the Reds are now guaranteed a berth in the season-ending Championship playoff, which will determine the league’s overall champion and the host nation representatives for the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup.
Mihailo Petrovic’s squad are the first to win a stage without a loss in the history of the J1, which operated with a two-stage format from 1993 to 2004 with the exception of the 1996 season.
The Reds will have an opportunity to finish the stage undefeated on June 27 when they host Albirex Niigata in the final round of the First Stage.