FC Zürich have wrapped up the Swiss Super League title slightly sooner than expected after their 1-0 victory at AC Bellinzona coincided with a 4-1 defeat for rivals and defending champions FC Basel 1893 at Grasshopper-Club.
A constant menace to Bellinzona's defence, French forward Alexandre Alphonse headed in the winner for Zürich from a Dušan Djurić cross on 31 minutes, taking his side four points clear of Basel with one match remaining. Almen Abdi struck a post in added time for the new champions, who secured the title for the 12th time overall and the third in the last four seasons.
Bernard Challandes's men nonetheless owe a debt of gratitude to Grasshoppers, their city rivals having fought back from Eren Derdiyok's 36th-minute effort for Basel to turn the match around with goals from Antonio Dos Santos (40), Senad Lulić (45), Roland Linz (54) and Alain Schultz (84).
For Challandes, the title will represent vindication after some doubted the 57-year-old's credentials when he replaced Hertha BSC Berlin coach Lucien Favre in summer 2007. Zürich also had to cope without Yassine Chikhaoui for much of the season, the gifted attacking midfielder having suffered a knee injury, but 22-year-old playmaker Abdi stepped into the breach with aplomb, while Finnish defender Hannu Tihinen excelled at the back and Alphonse formed an effective partnership with Eric Hassli up front.
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