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HJK celebrate 5th consecutive title

HJK Helsinki confirmed their fifth Veikkausliiga championship in a row on Sunday with a 3-0 win over RoPS. The title is HJK’s 26 Finnish football league win.

Image: Lehtikuva

Goals from Mikael Forssell, Demba Savage and Sebastian Mannström gave HJK the victory and the championship.

The Helsinki club were pre-season favourites thanks to their large budget. Despite some early stutters and a brave challenge from Espoo’s FC Honka, ‘Klubi’ were clearly the best team in the country for the fifth season in succession.

HJK had aimed to build on those four previous titles by replacing Antti Muurinen as head coach. The goal was clear: European success, defined as progress to the group stages of the Europa League or Champions League.

Finnish title 'never a flop'

They hired Sixten Boström, who had been out of work since he was fired by Swedish club Örebro SK in June 2012. Unfortunately for Boström, a surprise defeat to Estonian team Nomme Kalju put paid to HJK’s chance of progress in the Champions League. Despite the lack of European glory, chairman Olli-Pekka Lyytikainen denied the season had been a flop.

“If the Finnish championship is won, then it can never be a flop,” said Lyytikainen, whose club had a budget more than twice as large as the next wealthiest Veikkausliiga organisation.

“It is not that easy, and every year we start from zero (points). Everyone is taking it seriously and there are good challengers involved.”

Lyytikainen has rejected suggestions that Boström’s job might be under threat before the 2014 season.

On Saturday Åland United won the women’s league after beating Kuopion Pallokissat in Mariehamn. It was the club’s first championship since 2009, and the second in the club's history.