Wisla Kraków clinched a third consecutive Polish title despite a loss of form which saw their 38-match unbeaten run ended in emphatic style.
Needing one point from their 22 May visit to Legia Warszawa to secure their tenth league championship, Wisla suffered a stunning 5-1 defeat. Poland striker Piotr Wlodarczyk proved the scourge of the champions, scoring a hat-trick.
But disappointment turned to joy three days later when Wisla took the crown after Maciej Zurawski's 89th-minute goal earned a 2-1 victory against Górnik Zabrze. That result gave Wisla an unassailable nine-point lead over second-placed Groclin Grodzisk Wielkopolski.
Wisla's triumph means they will enter the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League and, with Zurawski linked with moves to FK Austria Wien and Trabzonspor of Turkey, coach Werner Licka has begun strengthening his squad. Brazilian winger Paulista has signed from FC Maia, with promising midfielder Konrad Golos arriving from KSP Polonia Warszawa.
Meanwhile, Groclin will be preparing for UEFA Cup football as runners-up. A sequence of five victories saw Dusan Radolsky's side pull clear of Legia and put pressure on Wisla before the title was decided. Slovakian coach Radolsky will hope to continue Groclin's upward turn after agreeing a one-year contract extension.
Polish Cup hopes
His team could yet collect silverware after a 1-1 draw with Legia left their Polish Cup semi-final in the balance ahead of the second leg. The capital club could prove difficult opponents, though, after striking a rich vein of form. Following their 5-1 thrashing of Wisla, a 5-0 win at city rivals Polonia on 25 May ensured third spot and UEFA Cup qualification.
Double-chasing Wisla lead Zaglebie Lubin 1-0 in the other last-four encounter and should they reach the final, fourth-placed Wisla Plock will take the third UEFA Cup berth.
The Ekstraklasa will be extended from 14 teams to 16 next season, meaning only bottom-side GKS Katowice will be relegated. That provides a reprieve for MKS Pogon Szczecin, but not coach Bohumil Panik who was replaced by Boguslaw Pietrzak on 11 May. Kolporter Korona Kielce, Arka Gdynia and GKS Belchatow have all been promoted.
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