By Timur Kamashev
FC Kairat Almaty have ended a 12-year wait for the title after the race went to a thrilling last day.
Kairat, who last won the trophy in 1992, needed a victory at FC Yesil Bogatyr Petropavlovsk to make sure of success. Two goals from Samat Smakov and another from Alibek Bulishev ensured a 3-1 victory, with Ukrainian Andriy Zavialov scoring a consolation goal for the home side. Kairat will now represent Kazakhstan in the 2005/06 UEFA Champions League.
It meant the result in the match involving defending champions FC Irtysh Pavlodar and FC Taraz was academic. Irtysh had needed a home win against Taraz and a Kairat defeat to reclaim their crown but in the end neither happened. Irtysh's 0-0 draw meant they finished four points adrift in second and had to be content with a place in the 2005/06 UEFA Cup.
FC Tobol Kostanay finished third after a 6-1 win at home against FC Zhetysu Taldykorgan and, as a result, have a place in the UEFA Intertoto Cup to look forward to next summer. Fourth were FC Aktobe Lento, after a 2-0 victory at FC Shakhtyor Karagandy, and fifth were FK Atyrau who came from behind to beat FC Zhenis Astana 2-1.
At the other end of the table, and with the expulsion earlier in the season of FC Kaisar Kyzylorda and FC Akzhaiyk Uralsk, FK Almaty were confirmed as the entrants into the relegation/promotion play-off against a team from the lower division, although their identity has yet to be decided. FC Yelimai Semei had already finished bottom and will be relegated.
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