TOKYO (Reuters) - Sanfrecce Hiroshima captured their first J-League title on Saturday after a 4-1 home win over Cerezo Osaka, earning them a spot at next month’s FIFA Club World Cup.
Vegalta Sendai’s 1-0 home defeat by relegation-threatened Albirex Niigata gifted Hiroshima the trophy with one match to spare in the 2012 season.
Hiroshima have 61 points from 33 games, four points more than Sendai.
One of the original 10 clubs when the J-League was established in 1993, Hiroshima will play New Zealand’s Auckland City in the Club World Cup opener in Yokohama on December 6.
“We have never backed away from a challenge,” Hiroshima manager Hajime Moriyasu told reporters after capping a dream first year in charge.
“We were just focused on winning this game. This title belongs to everyone who stuck with us and supported Sanfrecce. They deserve credit too.”
A goal blitz from Yojiro Takahagi, Toshihiro Aoyama and Hisato Sato put the home side 3-0 up at halftime before a fourth from Hironori Ishikawa.
Cerezo grabbed a consolation through a Takuma Edamura header.
Hiroshima’s first major piece of silverware secured a place in the seven-team Club World Cup alongside England’s Chelsea and Corinthians of Brazil.
“We’ve come through some hard years to get here,” said captain Sato.
“Maybe we haven’t always been the most attractive team to watch but this success is a result of the terrific support from out fans.”
J-League chairman Kazumi Ohigashi added: “It was a fantastic climax to the season - one befitting our 20th season.” (Reporting by Alastair Himmer; Editing by Patrick Johnston and Alison Wildey)