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Football: St Gallen one point from championship

Sankt Gallen have moved to within one point of the Swiss league championship after a 2-1 away win in Lucerne. Marcel Koller's team could be crowned champions as early as Sunday if their nearest rivals, Basel, fail to beat Servette.

St Gallen's victory over Lucerne may not have seen as many goals as the 7-1 thrashing inflicted on Andy Egli's men last time the two sides met, but the champions-in-waiting still looked a class above Lucerne in most areas of play.

There was, however, an element of fortune in Lucerne's opening goal. Sascha Müller, who only came into the side to replace the suspended Jairo, struck a hopeful effort towards goal which snuck in after deflecting off a Lucerne defender.

St Gallen's second shortly before half-time followed a scramble in the Lucerne penalty area. Marc Zellweger eventually got his foot to the ball, toe-poking the visitors further ahead.

After the break St Gallen maintained their attacking style. Their Ghanaian striker, Charles Amoah, had two great chances within as many minutes to put the match beyond Lucerne's reach. But an unusually wide header for the league's top scorer, followed by a great reaction save from Patrick Foletti kept the home side in with a chance.

Certainly Lucerne had their chances, but when the strikers broke forward they could find no way past St Gallen's goalkeeper and captain, Jörg Stiel, whose performances this season have been as important to the team's success as those of Amoah at the other end of the pitch.

When Lucerne finally got on the scoresheet there was little Stiel could do to stop them, with a loose ball in the area fired in from close range by Thomas Wyss. St Gallen showed little sign of nerves, though, keeping up the pressure in the Lucerne half, until the final whistle went.

Once the celebrations in Lucerne were wrapped up, the fans thoughts will no doubt have turned to the real party which could now begin on Sunday. Second placed Basel must now win their encounter with Servette Geneva to have any chance of beating St Gallen to the title.

But with the east Swiss side now just one point from their first championship in 96 years, a Basel victory would surely just delay the inevitable.

By Mark Ledsom





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