Astana have retained the Kazakh title after conjuring a late goal to beat third-placed Aktobe 1-0 on a dramatic final day of the season.
Crowned for the first time in their history last term, Astana went into the last round of matches one point clear of nearest pursuers Kairat Almaty, who hosted fourth-placed Ordabasy Shymkent in their final game. With Astana struggling to find a way past Aktobe goalkeeper Stanislav Pavlov, Kairat put themselves in pole position for the title when substitute Djordje Despotović scored twice.
Their crown slipping away, the champions brought on Junior Kabananga with 20 minutes to go, and the Congo DR forward struck the winner three minutes from the end to seal glory for Astana. The victory completed a fine comeback effort from the UEFA Champions League side, who trailed Kairat by four points with four games remaining.
"We proved we can be in three tournaments at the same time and be successful," said Astana coach Stanimir Stoilov, whose team will meet Kairat in the Kazakh Cup final on 28 November, and enter UEFA Champions League qualifying again next season. "Kairat are great opponents and our rivalry benefits the whole league."
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