Three goals from Uruguayan striker Richard Nuñez helped Grasshoppers Zurich demolish title rivals St Gallen 4-0 on Saturday, allowing the Zurich side to clinch the Swiss football championship on the final day of the season.
The match in St Gallen's Espenmoos stadium exploded into life as early as the second minute when veteran Swiss striker Stéphane Chapuisat barged his way through the St Gallen defence before laying off a perfect pass to Nuñez.
The 25-year-old forward had time to pick his spot before sending the ball past a stranded Jörg Stiel in the St Gallen goal.
Already upset at what they saw as a foul by Chapuisat, the St Gallen fans were further infuriated on the quarter hour mark when young Grasshoppers keeper Peter Jehle escaped punishment for a possible foul on Ionel Gane in the penalty area.
With 20 minutes played news filtered through that fellow title contenders Lugano were trailing by two goals in Sion, apparently turning the title chase into a final sprint between St Gallen and Grasshoppers.
As the defending champions went in desperate search of an equaliser, Jehle was putting in an inconsistent performance in the Grasshoppers goal, flapping at a harmless corner one moment before brilliantly stopping a point-blank header from Marc Zellweger the next.
But as St Gallen pushed forward, Grasshoppers struck again, with Nuñez ending the first half the way he had begun it. This time it was Henri Camara who provided the pass from the right wing, Nuñez cleverly flicking the ball in midair to confound Stiel once more.
Halfway through the second half Nuñez completed his hat-trick and ended all hope for St Gallen. Camara was again the provider, sliding the ball back towards the unmarked Uruguayan who slammed in goal number three to send the travelling Grasshoppers fans into rapture.
With 17 minutes to go Nuñez came close to what would have been an incredible fourth goal, whizzing in a shot from the half-way line that Stiel only just managed to tip over the bar.
A fourth goal did arrive in the 84th minute, with veteran Swiss international Stéphane Chapuisat grabbing his just reward for another impressive season.
Moments later 'Chappi' was able to put his hands on the Swiss championship trophy for the first time in his career. For Grasshoppers it was the 26th title win in the club's history and one of the most unexpected given the youth of the side that new manager Hans-Peter Zaugg has put together this season.
by Mark Ledsom, St Gallen
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