Mitch Langerak is the proud new owner of a J.League record, keeping his 17th clean sheet of the season on the final day of a successful campaign for the Socceroos keeper.
The 32-year-old Queenslander had plenty on the line at home to Sanfrecce Hiroshima in round 34 action on Saturday.
Nagoya Grampus needed a victory to seal an AFC Champions League spot and they secured all three points for the 19th time this campaign, winning 1-0 thanks to an 86th-minute Naoki Maeda goal.
Cerezo Osaka’s midweek defeat to Sagan Tosu meant Nagoya’s ACL aspirations were in their control – beat Sanfrecce and tie up third place and a coveted spot in next season’s continental competition qualifying round.
The Nagoya No.1 pulled off a crucial save in the 39th minute to keep it level and after both sides hit the woodwork, Maeda’s stunning left-foot strike settled the contest and a successful season in which the team conceded just 28 goals, the lowest in the league.
“It is not just about me,” said Langerak, who received an award from the fans for his season performances in a ceremony after the game.
“I have to thank the rest of the team for doing such a good job.”
The news wasn’t as good for Langerak’s former Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou.
His outgoing champion Yokohama F. Marinos side lost 3-1 in the derby with Yokohama FC to finish ninth in the 18-team competition.
Postecoglou led the club to their sixth championship in only his second season in Japan in 2019, but finished a whopping 36 points behind Kawasaki Frontale.
The runaway champions – who have now won three league titles in four years – were 3-2 winners at Kashiwa Reysol to end 18 points clear of second-placed Gamba Osaka, who lost 2-0 at home to Shimizu S-Pulse.