Astra Giurgiu secured their first ever Romanian title on Sunday despite not taking the field, with more championship glory for Viktoria Plzeň, Dinamo Zagreb and APOEL.
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Breakthrough title for Astra
Astra Giurgiu are celebrating their first ever Romanian championship after wrapping up the title without even taking the field on Sunday. Closest rivals Steaua Bucureşti needed to beat Pandurii Târgu Jiu to keep the race alive, but a 1-1 result in that match handed Astra the crown with two games remaining – with Steaua five points back and just one match left.
"We don't need to be modest because this is the reality: we played the best football among all the top-division sides and deserved to win the title," said coach Marius Șumudică, who clinched the first league crown of his coaching career. "It was a very difficult year for us and this win is above all down to our players. Maybe my name can go in the corner somewhere, but the players are the first ones who deserve to be praised."
Fourth title for Plzeň
Viktoria Plzeň sealed back-to-back Czech 1. Liga titles – their fourth championship success in six seasons – with a 2-0 home win against Baník Ostrava on Saturday. Slovakian international Patrik Hrošovský put the hosts ahead with a 32nd-minute penalty, Daniel Kolář making the result safe early in the second half. Plzeň have an unassailable 14-point lead over second-placed Sparta Praha, who have four games left to Karel Krejčí's side's three.
Plzeň are on a Czech top-flight record run of 16 consecutive wins, a sequence that started with a 2-1 defeat of Sparta on 1 November. For Krejčí, Pavel Vrba's assistant during the victorious 2010/11 and 2012/13 campaigns, it is a first title as a head coach. "I appreciate it even more because we were better than Sparta, who showed their strength in the UEFA Europa League this season," said Krejčí, who made a bet with his squad that he would dye his hair in club colours if Plzeň clinched the title.
Dinamo dominance continues
Dinamo Zagreb have clinched their 11th successive Croatian title thanks to Rijeka's goalless draw at home to RNK Split on Sunday evening, giving Zoran Mamić's side an unassailable six-point lead at the top. ""We are all delighted to win an unbelievable 11th consecutive championship," said Mamić, whose side will play Slaven Belupo in the Croatian Cup final on 10 May. "This has been a difficult season but we all put in a great effort and now it's been confirmed that we are the best. We really are the best – we deserve this title." Mamić has won the title in three different roles since returning to Dinamo 11 years ago – player, sporting director and now coach.
APOEL champions again
APOEL beat closest challengers AEK Larnaca 2-0 in Nicosia on Thursday to retain their title with two games to spare. Pieros Sotiriou's first-half strike and Giannis Gianniotas's penalty after the break confirmed APOEL's 25th title success, just a week after coach Temuri Ketsbaia left the club in the wake of a Cypriot Cup semi-final exit.
"Today is a joyous occasion, but we must not forget where this effort began," said APOEL captain Constantinos Charalambides. "It has been nine long, hard months and a marathon with plenty of obstacles. The talent in the team gave us some victories, but it was the team effort that took us all the way."
Three in a row for Qarabağ
With four matches to spare, Sunday's 2-0 win against second-placed Zire gave Qarabağ a third successive league title in Azerbaijan. Goals from Dani Quintana and Reynaldo secured a fourth championship overall for Gurban Gurbanov's side, the coach saying: "The victory is even more pleasant when you reach it through attractive football."
Qarabağ have therefore equalled Neftçi's record of three straight titles, defender Rashad Sadygov adding: "It was a tough season. Nobody gave us points without a decent fight. We relaxed a bit in the two previous years and allowed opponents to close the gap in the closing stages, but now we're more experienced. We have no time to celebrate though; we have cup matches coming."
Lincoln wrap up Gibraltar title in style
Lincoln have claimed the Gibraltarian Premier League for the 14th year in a row with a thumping victory against relegated Angels. Lincoln dropped only five points and have scored well over 100 goals, conceding only nine – and wrapped up the title with two games to spare by beating bottom side Angels 13-1.
"It's always special to be crowned champions, especially now that Champions league football is the reward," said club captain Roy Chipolina. "That's 14 years in a row as champions. Easily said, but a lot of hard work has gone into making Lincoln the club we are today. We're honoured to be representing Gibraltar again in the Champions League qualifiers. We only want to achieve greater things so we will strive to go one better than we did last season. Nothing is impossible and who knows, we might raise a few eyebrows again."