The main candidates for silverware in Brazil, China, Egypt and Mexico all held firm in their weekend engagements, though there was a surprise in store for top dogs Independiente in Argentina. The MLS’s two form teams, meanwhile, have yet to drop a point or concede a goal.
FIFA.com rounds up the latest highlights from the biggest championships outside Europe.
Brazilian state championships: Highs and lows
Two goals from Vagner Love helped Flamengo see off clássico rivals Vasco da Gama 2-1 and earn a place in the final of the Taca Rio. Fla will be looking for their fourth consecutive Carioca title against Botafogo, who edged past Fluminense 3-2 in an exciting encounter. Sebastian Abreu, Fahel and Caio got the goals for O Fogão, while Fred hit a brace in vain for Flu.
Big game: A late goal from midfielder Durval secured a 3-2 win for Santos over Sao Paulo in the first leg of their Campeonato Paulista semi-final at the Morumbi. O Peixe looked to be cruising when a Junior Cesar own goal and an Andre strike put them 2-0 up. O Tricolor Paulista then pulled level through Hernanes and Dagoberto only for Durval’s late stunner to give Santos the edge.
Headline grabber: Unfancied Pelotas pulled off a shock when they beat Sao Jose-RS on penalties to book a final date with Internacional in the Taca Fabio Koff, the second stage of the Rio Grande do Sul state tournament. Gremio, the winners of the first stage, will meet the winners of that game to decide the overall champion.
Mexican Bicentenario: Chivas woe spells joy for Monterrey
Title holders Monterrey regained first place in the overall standings thanks to their 1-1 draw with San Luis and a 3-0 reverse for Guadalajara at the hands of Monarcas Morelia. Toluca beat Queretaro 1-0 to jump into sixth place at the expense of Cruz Azul, who lost by the same score to Atlante. Eighth-placed America moved back into the play-off frame with a 3-1 victory over Jaguares.
Big game: Pumas UNAM bounced back from a heavy defeat in the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Champions League with a gritty 1-0 win over Santos Laguna, unseating them from the summit of Group 3.
Headline grabber: A total of 17 Mexico internationals were absent from club action at the weekend. National coach Javier Aguirre has organised an extensive training get-together ahead of the forthcoming FIFA World Cup™ finals, which will include a tour of Europe prior to the team’s departure for South Africa on June 1.
Chinese Super League: Top three on song
After three rounds of games, there are three teams tied at the top on seven points. Leading the way on goal difference are Shandong Luneng, who cantered to a 3-0 defeat of Chongquing Lifan. Second-placed Liaoning Hunyong won 2-0 away to Henan Jianye, while Shenzhen Ruby, the other member of the leading trio, eked out a 1-0 win over Nanchang Bayi at home.
Big game: A Joel Griffiths goal on the stroke of half-time was all reigning champions Beijing Guoan needed to beat old rivals Changchun Yatai and put an end to their undefeated record.
Headline grabber: Shandong Luneng midfielder Wang Yongpo is proving to be one of the sensations of the season so far. The 23-year-old already has three goals to his name, the latest coming in that 3-0 defeat of Chongquing Lifan, and already looks well capable of beating last year’s tally of seven.
Egyptian League: Al Ahly march on
Al Alhy are showing no signs of slipping up as they close in on their 35th title. Francis Doe was on target to give them the narrowest of wins over Al Ittihad in the day’s big game in Cairo. That result, combined with Zamalek’s 2-1 at Haras El Hedood, allowed Al Ahly to pull nine points clear of their closest pursuer with a game in hand.
Headline grabber: Though out of the championship running, Ismaily moved back up to third place and brought an end to a run of three games without a win by seeing off Ghazl Al-Mehalla 2-1.
The battle for the Argentinian Clausura title is intense to say the least, with San Lorenzo beating leaders Independiente 1-0 away to hand them their second straight defeat. Thanks to that result Godoy Cruz can overtake them if they beat a revitalised Tigre on Monday, as will Argentinos if they overcome Colon at home. Estudiantes in fourth can pull level with El Rojo if they collect three points at home to struggling Racing Club. One side who passed up their opportunity to close right in on Independiente were Banfield, who drew 0-0 at Velez Sarsfield and are now four points adrift.
Los Angeles Galaxy and Kansas City Wizards are the only teams with 100 per cent records in MLS. While the men from LA were winning 2-0 at Houston Dynamo to hold on to the lead in the Western Conference with nine points, the Wizards were beating Colorado Rapids 1-0 at home to move out front in the Eastern Conference with six. The two leaders have yet to concede a goal. Defending champions Real Salt Lake continued their faltering start to the season with a 2-2 draw at home to Seattle Sounders.
In-form TP Mazembe overwhelmed FC Saint Eloi Lupopo 5-0 to move clear at the top of Group 2 in the Congolese Linafoot. In the weekend’s other big game AS V Club overcame TS Malekesa 2-0 and cut the gap on Group 1 leaders TC Elima to three points.