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Arsenal claim 1st division title

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- Arsenal de Sarandi won the Argentine first division championship for the first time in its history on Sunday, defeating Belgrano 1-0 in the last round of matches of the season.

Tigre went into Sunday's final game level on points with Arsenal, but only drew 2-2 against Independiente, while Boca Juniors, which was two points behind the leaders, fell 3-1 against All Boys.

Reigning champion Boca was favored to claim both titles in Argentina's split season and was in first place until two weekends ago, but it has managed only one point in its last three league games and slipped to fourth.

Former Argentina international Lisandro Lopez got the winning goal for Arsenal in the 28th minute and the game became easier for the new champion after Belgrano's Luciano Lollo was sent off in the 57th.

“We won the games we had to win, we had faith in ourselves. I want to dedicate this to the players for their sacrifice and the fight we gave to put Arsenal in this place,” said Arsenal coach Gustavo Alfaro.

Arsenal only won promotion to the first division in 2002 and is the newest team in the top flight, having been founded in 1957. Its first major title was the 2007 Copa Sudamericana.

“Here we are a family of workers, we put on the shirt to work for the club. We are a small family,” added Arsenal goalkeeper Cristian Campestrini.

Tigre started nervously, but Carlos Luna eased the tension when he poked the ball home in the 21st minute after a scramble in front of goal.

Independiente, which wasn't involved in either the title or relegation battle, fought back, with Patricio Rodriguez scoring twice early in the first half to give Independiente the lead.

A penalty from Diego Morales leveled the scores in the 81st, but Independiente held on despite chances for Tigre in the last ten minutes.

Tigre was in the curious position of fighting for both the championship and to stay in the league, due to Argentina's relegation system, which is based on points-to-games ratio over the previous three years of matches, but a point proved good enough to avoid relegation.

Boca, playing a reserve team with one eye on Wednesday's Copa Libertadores final first leg against Corinthians, lost its second consecutive league game, with Emanuel Perea scoring a hat trick for All Boys.

Perea headed in his first in the 14th, scored his second just after halftime and completed the scoring in the 53rd from a tight angle. Gaston Sauro scored a consolation in the last minute for Boca.

Boca, which won the Apertura tournament of Argentina's split season, is also involved in the final of the Copa Argentina against Racing in July.

In other games Sunday it was: San Lorenzo 3, San Martin 1; Banfield 0, Colon 3; Union 2, Estudiantes 2; Godoy Cruz 1, Rafaela 3.

The results means Banfield joins Olimpia in being directly relegated, while San Lorenzo and San Martin will contest a playoff against teams from the second division.

Banfield's game again Colon was suspended after 83 minutes, reportedly due to violent incidents in the stadium.

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England fall, but better side won: press
Arsenal's Emilio Zelaya, left, fights for the ball with Belgrano's Luciano Lollo during its league match in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, June 24. (AP)

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