While the league leaders in Argentina, Japan and South Africa all collected maximum points at the weekend, it was a different story in Brazil and Australia. Elsewhere the American MLS play-off quarter-finals came to a conclusion and seven of the eight places in the season-ending play-offs in Mexico have now been filled. FIFA.com takes its usual weekly look at events in the major leagues outside Europe.

Brasileirao: Sao Paulo back on top
With only four games of the season remaining, Sao Paulo seem to have timed their run to perfection, taking to the top of the table despite a 1-1 draw at Gremio. The reigning champions made their return to the summit thanks to defeats to their closest challengers. Previous leaders Palmeiras fell to a surprise 1-0 defeat to Fluminense at the Maracana, and Atletico Mineiro missed the chance to move into first place when they went down 3-1 at home to Flamengo.

Big game: Dejan Petkovic scored direct from a corner and Adriano grabbed his 18th goal of the season in Flamengo's entertaining defeat of Atletico. Fla now lie third, just two points behind Sao Paulo.
Headline grabber: Fluminense remain in the relegation zone despite stunning championship contenders Palmeiras. With only 12 points left to play for, Flu are five behind Botafogo and salvation and can ill afford any mishaps in the run-in.

Mexican Apertura: Play-offs take shape
Cruz Azul, Puebla, Santos, America and Monterrey made sure of their play-off berths alongside Toluca and Monarcas Morelia, leaving just one place available with one round of games remaining in the regular league season. Cruz Azul cemented their place in the last eight with a 4-0 defeat of Puebla, who advanced nevertheless. Santos were another side to progress despite falling to a heavy loss, Los Guerreros going down 4-2 at San Luis, who can join them in the championship finale if they win their last game.

Big game: America earned the right to contest the finals with the narrowest of wins over Monterrey, another side to progress despite suffering defeat. Los Aguilas' Argentinian forward Daniel Montenegro scored the only goal of the game.
Headline grabber: Toluca all but ended Pachuca's hopes with an emphatic 3-0 win, a result that took them level on points with leaders Morelia, who remain top of the standings on goal difference.

Japanese J-League: Three break free
Three goals from Renatinho, the last of them coming in the final minute, gave Kawasaki Frontale a thrilling 3-2 win over JEF United Chiba and kept them at the top of the table with three games to go. Kawasaki remain one point ahead of Kashima Antlers, who eased to a 2-0 defeat of Montedio Yamagata. Four points off the pace in third are Gamba Osaka, comfortable 4-1 winners over Kyoto Purple Sanga.

Big game: Making light of their seemingly hopeless position in the relegation zone, Kashiwa Reysol dealt a mortal blow to Shimizu S-Pulse's title aspirations with an unlikely 5-0 home win. Shimizu stay fourth but are now eight points adrift of frontrunners Kawasaki.
Headline grabber: Staying down in the drop zone, JEF United Chiba's defeat to the leaders consigned them to the Japanese second flight, where they will join the already relegated Oita Trinidad.

Argentinian Apertura: Top two stand firm
Newell's Old Boys and Banfield overcame awkward obstacles on Matchday 13 to remain out front in Argentina. While La Lepra were disposing of the freefalling River Plate 2-1 thanks to a Joaquin Boghossian brace, El Taladro chalked up their first win in 13 years at San Lorenzo courtesy of a solitary strike from Sebastian Fernandez. Colon dropped to fourth after a 0-0 draw with Boca Juniors at La Bombonera.

Big game: Estudiantes turned on the style in the second half of their meeting with defending champions Velez Sarsfield, running out 3-0 winners to climb into third, just three points adrift of the leading duo. The highlight of El Pincha's afternoon was their third goal, scored by Leandro Benitez after a sumptuous 16-pass move.
Headline grabber: Atletico Tucuman broke a run of seven games without a win and boosted their relegation points average when they came from behind twice to see off Tigre 4-2.

The American Major League Soccer season has reached the semi-final stage. Playing off for the Eastern Conference title will be Real Salt Lake, who beat reigning US champions Columbus Crew 3-2 on aggregate, while a late Cuauhtemoc Blanco goal secured another 3-2 aggregate triumph for Chicago Fire over New England Revolution. Facing off in the west will be Houston Dynamo, 1-0 winners over Seattle Sounders thanks to Brian Ching's extra-time goal, and Los Angeles Galaxy, who earned a 3-2 win against local rivals Chivas USA, Landon Donovan clinching the tie when he scored the only goal of the second leg from the penalty spot.

Leading the way at the midway point of South Africa's ABSA Premiership are Supersport United, who strengthened their position with a 4-2 defeat of Amazulu. Ajax Cape Town are second after an injury-time strike from Diyo Sibisi gave them a 2-1 win at Mpumalanga Black Aces. Santos stayed third after downing Maritzburg United 4-0, while Mamelodi Sundowns dropped to fifth after losing 1-0 at Golden Arrows, with Orlando Pirates climbing above them into third.

Finally, the leaders are bunching up in Australian A-League after a brace of summit meetings involving the top four sides. Pacesetters Sydney went down 1-0 at third-placed Gold Coast United, and second-placed Melbourne Victory crashed 4-0 at home to Central Coast Mariners in fourth, who closed to within five points of Sydney.