While all eyes in Europe were focused on the UEFA EURO 2008 final, league action continued in many parts of the world. This week, there's a crush at the top in Japan, a sole leader emerging in Brazil, a first-time finalist in Colombia, a glamour team thrashed in the USA, and plenty more. FIFA.com reviews the pick of the weekend action.
Brasileiro: Flamengo in front
Flamengo were the only one of Brazil's three table-toppers to gain full points in Round 8. By beating Sport Recife 2-1 away, O Mengão opened up a two-point lead at the top of the Brasileiro, with Cruzeiro held 1-1 at home by Sao Paulo, and Gremio glad to have snatched a late draw in the Porto Alegre derby against Internacional. At the other end of the table, Copa Libertadores finalists Fluminense continued their muted start to the domestic season, after being held to a goalless draw at home by Botafogo.
Big game: The southern derby at the Arena da
Baixada was fiercely contested as usual, but neither side could
land a killer punch, and the 1-1 draw leaves both Coritiba and
hosts Atletico Paranaense stuck in mid-table.
Headline-grabber: With goals from Alex Mineiro and Denílson, one in each half, Palmeiras won their third straight match by defeating Nautico 2-0 at Palestra Italia and moved up to fourth place. The victory not only finished Nautico's four game unbeaten streak, but also allowed Vanderlei Luxemburgo's side to take their place among the Copa Libertadores qualifying spots.
Colombian Copa Mustang: Boyaca through to face America
Boyaca Chico went into their home game against Deportivo Cali knowing a win was enough to get them into the playoff final against America, and they succeeded in dramatic fashion, a Cali own-goal seeing them through in the final minute. The remaining Group B game was thereby rendered irrelevant, but Independiente Medellin managed to end their season on a high note, seeing off Deportes Quindio 2-0 at home.
Big game: Independiente had to wait until the
second half to get their noses in front in an open game against a
determined Quindio, who could keep their hopes of progression alive
with a win. But the home side took the lead just before the hour
through Juan Ortiz, and Ivan Corredor, a second-half substitute,
made the points secure on 70 minutes.
Headline-grabber: Poor Deportivo Cali defender Danny Aguilar will be the object of the Independiente supporters' ire after his 90th-minute own goal robbed the Medellin side of a place in the final. Instead, it is the ajedrezados from Tunja who will be joining America in the playoff final, for the first time in their history.
American Major League Soccer: DC United stun Galaxy of
It was supposed to be a triumphant trip to the capital for Ruud Gullit's glamour LA Galaxy side, for whom Edson Buddle, Landon Donovan and designated signing David Beckham have been in superlative form. Instead, it was DC United who thumped the Western Conference leaders 4-1, Luciano Emilio scoring another brace to add to his formidable goal tally and former Argentina star Marcelo Gallardo pulling the strings superbly in midfield.
Big game: Two goals from Steve Ralston gave the
New England Revolution a 2-1 win over high-flying Toronto FC at the
Gillette Stadium...and ensured Steve Nicol's men a trip to
Toronto for the MLS All-Star game in late July.
Hedaline-grabber: Who else but Luciano Emilio, who has now scored in six consecutive matches for DC United. Is there a more in-form striker in the world at the moment?
Japanese J.League: Leaders toppled
Nagoya Grampus Eight, sitting joint top of the J.League after 13 rounds, suffered a shock 4-0 loss at home to a determined Kashima Antlers, who moved within a point of the top two thanks to a brace from Marquinhos and one each for fellow Brazilian Danilo and Japanese international Mitsuo Ogasawara. Current Asian club champions Urawa, level with Grampus on 26 points, were also defeated by mid-table Kashiwa Reysol. The top of the J.League table is now becoming tightly bunched, with only four points separating first from seventh place.
Big game: Jubilo Iwata, having a miserable season
so far, regained some pride with a 1-0 win away to Yokohama F
Marinos, thanks to a second-half goal from Gilsinho.
Headline-grabber: Despite their fine performances in the Asian Champions League, Gamba Osaka have yet to truly fire in their 2008 J.League campaign, but a 4-2 win over struggling Consadole Sapporo, with two goals for their big Brazilian striker Bare, was certainly a step in the right direction. Gamba have now entered the leading group, trailing the top two by a single point.
Cameroonian Elite One: Champagne on hold
Champions Cotonsport Garoua slipped up with a 1-0 loss to mid-table Caiman de Douala, to put their championship celebrations on hold for another week. Second-placed Canon de Yaounde, however, failed to take full advantage of the champions' surprise defeat, as they could only manage a 0-0 draw away at Sabel de Batie. It was a bad day for the leaders all round, as third-placed Fovu slumped to a 1-0 home defeat against Unisport Bafang.
Big game: Nerves are still jangling at Aigle
Royal, as their 1-1 draw against fifth-placed Union Douala kept
them in serious danger of relegation.
Headline-grabber: Les Astres made it three wins on the spin by disposing of wooden-spooners Lion International Ngoma 2-1 away from home. It's been a sensational surge out of the relegation zone by the Douala side, who started their run with a win over the champions.
The first stage of the Angolan Girabola came to a close this weekend, with leaders Petro Atletico finishing in style with a 2-1 win over Luanda rivals Benfica. Second-placed Primeiro Agosto were denied the chance to register a win on the final day of the opening campaign for an unusual reason: their hosts Petro Huambo had suffered an invasion of bees at their Kurikutelas stadium, necessitating the postponement of the match. Tailenders Benfica Lubango suffered more misery with a 3-0 defeat at high-flying Recreativo Libolo: not the best of starts for new coach Alberto Cardeau.
Meanwhile, in Argentina, there was joy for one of the country's most popular teams, Avellaneda's Racing Club, who escaped the drop by means of a 2-1 aggregate victory over Belgrano in the promotion/relegation playoff.