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Monday, May 25, 2009

Hasebe's Wolfsburg captures league title

FRANKFURT (Kyodo) Makoto Hasebe had a hand in the opener as VfL Wolfsburg hammered Werder Bremen 5-1 to capture its maiden Bundesliga title on Saturday.

News photo
Thrill of victory: Wolfsburg's Makoto Hasebe bites his winner's medal while holding the Japanese flag during the celebration of his team's Bundesliga title on Saturday in Wolfsburg, Germany. KYODO PHOTO

Zvjezdan Misimovic fired Wolfsburg into the lead on six minutes after Bremen failed to clear Hasebe's ball into the box before Grafite made it 2-0 after a quarter of an hour and a Sebastian Prodl own goal put the home side firmly in control.

Diego pulled one back for Bremen but Gafite netted his second of the match on 56 minutes and Edin Dzeko wrapped up the win 16 minutes from time.

Hasebe, substituted 10 minutes into the second half, and teammate Yoshito Okubo, who was left off the bench, became the first Japanese players to taste title success in the German top flight since Yasuhiko Okudera won the championship with FC Cologne in 1978.

"I never thought a year and six months after coming to Germany I would be a championship winner so I am happy. Winning the German title will be good for my confidence," said Hasebe, a former Urawa Reds star.

"Japan have not yet qualified for the World Cup and I want that to be settled in the next match (against Uzbekistan). I want to make the most of the momentum I have gathered with the national team."

Hasebe and Okubo have both been named to Japan's squad for its three remaining World Cup qualifiers in June.

Japan can clinch its fourth consecutive berth at the World Cup finals by beating Uzbekistan in Tashkent on June 6.

Guardiola sent off

MADRID (AP) Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola received a red card near the end of the new Spanish League champion's 1-0 loss to lowly Osasuna.

Guardiola, who will lead Barcelona into Wednesday's Champions League final, was sent off after protesting the 81st-minute ejection of substitute Marc Muniesa, leading an annoyed crowd at Camp Nou to wave white handkerchiefs at referee Antonio Rubinos Perez.

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