VENLO, Netherlands (Kyodo) Midfielder Keisuke Honda helped VVV Venlo secure the second-division title and promotion back to the top flight in the Netherlands with a 1-0 defeat of Haarlem FC on Friday.

Ken Leemans scored the decider from a free kick won by Honda in the 82nd minute, helping Venlo clinch the championship and return to the first division at the first attempt after suffering relegation last season.

“I hadn’t expected us to clinch the championship today so a feeling I can’t really explain welled up in me the moment we won it,” said Honda.

“A big part of me is relieved. I felt under tremendous pressure to help win this team the championship,” added the midfielder who played for Japan in the Beijing Olympics.

Venlo has an unassailable lead at the top of the table with 77 points, nine ahead of second-placed RKC Waalwijk with two games left to play.

Magnum injures knee

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Nagoya Grampus midfielder Magnum will be sidelined for six weeks with a right knee injury, the J. League first-division side said Saturday.

The Brazilian midfielder sustained the injury in Wednesday’s 1-0 win away to Australia’s Newcastle Jets in the Asian Champions League.

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