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What a wonder! Wolfsburg wins

VFL Wolfsburg won its first German Bundesliga title yesterday when it thumped UEFA Cup finalist Werder Bremen 5-1 and finished the season top on 69 points.

Bayern Munich, on 67 points, clinched the second automatic Champions League spot with a 2-1 win over VfB Stuttgart, which finished third on 64 points and will play Champions League qualifiers.

Hertha Berlin, which lost 0-4 at relegated Karlsruhe, finished fourth with 63 points and will join Hamburger SV in the newly created Europa League. Hamburg won 3-2 at Eintracht Frankfurt to finish fifth on 61.

Arminia Bielefeld and Karlsruhe were relegated while Energie Cottbus will play a relegation playoff with the third-best team of the second division.

Wolfsburg went 3-0 up after only 26 minutes with goals from Zvjezdan Misimovic, Grafite and an own-goal from Sebastian Proedl.

Werder pulled one back through Diego before Grafite and Edin Dzeko sealed the title with two second-half goals.

Hundreds of fans poured on to the pitch of the Volkswagen arena, cheering and hugging the players and coach Felix Magath after the final whistle.

Wolfsburg, which had never won a title before, became the first team in the history of the Bundesliga to have two strikers score 20 goals or more in one season with Grafite netting 28 times and Bosnian Dzeko another 26.

Wolfsburg, two points ahead going into the final match, was determined not to let the title slip from its grasp, grabbing the lead through midfielder Misimovic after six minutes.

Sparkling season

Misimovic crowned a sparkling season with his seventh goal when he fired in a low cross from Japanese Makoto Hasebe from close range.

Grafite made it 2-0 after 15 minutes, flicking in a Christian Gentner cross before Proedl conceded an own-goal after 26 minutes to make it 3-0.

After Brazilian Diego had scored, Grafite restored the three-goal margin nine minutes after the break when he headed in a Misimovic free kick and Bosnian Dzeko completed the rout.

Magath, who has also won two titles with Bayern, is leaving to coach Schalke next season.

Wolfsburg, backed by the giant car maker Volkswagen, which has its main factory and headquarters in the central German town, has spent 12 seasons in the top division but had never won any kind of title before.

Magath took over in Wolfsburg six months after getting fired by Bayern in January 2007, despite having won two straight domestic doubles in Munich. In two years, Magath transformed Wolfsburg from a side that narrowly escaped relegation the season before his arrival into a champion.

Magath's successor in Wolfsburg has not been named, but several German newspapers reported yesterday that it would be Armin Veh, who won the championship with Stuttgart in 2007, only to be fired in November.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga yesterday, it was: Cottbus 3, Bayer Leverkusen 0; Bielefeld 2, Hannover 2; FC Cologne 1, VfL Bochum 1; Borussia Moenchengladbach 1, Borussia Dortmund 1; and Schalke 2, Hoffenheim 3.


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