HJK Helsinki ended their six-year wait for a Finnish league title after a 1-1 draw with FF Jaro was enough to wrap up first place in the Veikkausliiga.
The capital outfit led both FC Honka Espoo and FC TPS Turku heading into the final round of games on Saturday, with their two closest rivals facing each other to round off their seasons. HJK fell behind to a Tillmann Grove goal with eight minutes gone, but they made sure of sealing the title when Dawda Bah equalised with 29 minutes left. As it happened, their challengers played out a 0-0 draw, which left Honka runners-up for the third year running.
HJK's victory means that after 100 Finnish league seasons, they have been crowned champions 22 times, 13 more than anyone else; they also have the most wins in the 20-year-old Veikkausliiga with six. HJK coach Antti Muurinen said: "We had problems in defence early on but managed to work things out in that area. The other clear problem was goalscoring. We have plenty of good strikers but none of them really competed for the top-scorer title. Altogether, we wasted a lot of good chances throughout the season. However, the championship tastes good."
At the bottom, RoPS Rovaniemi were relegated despite winning their final game 1-0 against KuPS Kuopio. JJK Jyväskylä narrowly escaped automatic relegation by claiming a 2-2 draw against Tampere United and face a two-legged play-off against first division runners-up KPV Kokkola, who finished behind promoted AC Oulu. Honka and TPS will be joined in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League by the Finnish Cup winners on 31 October, with Tampere facing Honka and FC Lahti meeting FC International Turku in the semi-finals six days before the showpiece event.
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