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Five in a row league titles for untouchable Nippon TV Beleza

Sendai: Nippon TV Beleza have continued their dominance of Japanese women’s football after they secured a record fifth successive Nadeshiko League title on Saturday.

The Tokyo-based outfit broke their own previous record of four successive titles, achieved twice from 1990 to 1993 and 2005 to 2008, and have now been Japanese champions in 17 of the last 30 seasons.

Saturday’s 4-0 away win over Vegalta Sendai took their tally to 42 points from 18 matches, three ahead of second-placed Urawa Reds, who ended their campaign with a 2-0 win at JEF United.

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Regular contenders INAC Kobe Leonessa finished third on 31 points, marking the first time since 2014 that a club other than Beleza and INAC has occupied one of the top two positions on the final league table.

Rikako Kobayashi was the chief destroyer in the win that sealed the title for Masato Nagata’s side, scoring a hat-trick with goals in the 43rd, 60th and 92nd minutes, with fellow Japanese international Yui Hasegawa also finding the net in the 89th minute.

The pair are two of a legion of Nadeshiko stars to play for Beleza, who contributed 10 players for Japan’s squad at FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 earlier this year.

Striker Mina Tanaka led the scoring, for both Beleza and the league as a whole, with 20 goals for the campaign, with Kobayashi and FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup-winner Riko Ueki netting 11 and eight respectively.

Beleza’s latest title success comes just weeks before the club will join the title-winning clubs of Korea Republic, China PR and Australia in the inaugural AFC Women’s Club Championship in Korea Republic.

The Japanese champions will meet China’s Jiangsu Suning Ladies Football Club in their tournament opener on November 26, before facing Korean powerhouse Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels two days later, with a final meeting against Australian W-League Premiers Melbourne Victory to close out the history-making campaign.


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