The football world will shortly be turning its attention to South Africa 2010. In the meantime, there is still plenty of domestic entertainment for fans to enjoy, with championship races ending and starting across the globe. Mexico’s Bicentenario reached its conclusion at the weekend, the identity of Colombia’s play-off finalists was revealed, and the last of the promotion and relegation issues were settled in Argentina. In Brazil, China and the USA, however, the fun has only just begun.
FIFA.com rounds up the latest news from the biggest leagues outside Europe.
Brasileirao: Timão too good
Chicao scored the only goal of the game as Corinthians saw off Fluminense to keep their 100 per cent record intact. The Sao Paulo state side are now two points clear of the pack, which is headed by Avai, 2-0 winners over Vasco da Gama at the weekend. Just behind on goal difference lie Botafogo, Palmeiras and surprise packages Caera.
Big game: The revitalised Sao Paulo continued their resurgence by downing Internacional 2-0 in Porto Alegre, their goals coming from Hernanes and Fernandao. The comfortable win gives O Tricolor Paulista the psychological advantage ahead of their Copa Libertadores semi-final meeting with O Colorado in late July.
Headline grabber: Fernandao opened his account for Sao Paulo against his former employers, with whom he won the Libertadores and the FIFA Club World Cup in 2006. “I’d like to thank the Inter fans for applauding me,” said the striker afterwards. “I always gave my all in their colours and fate dictated that I should score my first goal here.”
American Major League Soccer: Crew in charge
Columbus Crew tightened their grip on the Eastern Conference with a 1-0 defeat of Kansas City Wizards. Third-placed Toronto FC closed the gap on New York Red Bulls in second to two points after edging out New England Revolution by the same scoreline. Over in the West, Real Salt Lake moved to within ten points of leaders LA Galaxy after earning a hard-fought 2-1 win at Chivas USA.
Big game: San Jose Earthquakes were indebted to a Chris Wondolowski goal as they overcame Seattle Sounders 1-0 to stay third in the Western Conference.
Headline grabber: For the second match in succession, Columbus Crew were indebted to a vital goal from Emilio Renteria. The Venezuelan had been on target on Thursday to finish off New York Red Bulls, and it was his decisive strike yesterday that sealed a narrow 1-0 triumph over Kansas City Wizards.
Chinese Super League: All change at the top
Shanghai Shenhua’s 3-2 home win over Beijing Guoan gave them the outright lead in China. Shandong Luneng, frontrunners at the start of the day, could only draw 2-2 with Changchun Yatai. Climbing into third are Henan Jianye, who saw off Nanchang Bayi 1-0.
Big game: Shenhua had to work hard to overcome the men from the capital, who were third going into the game. After falling behind early on, the new leaders hit back with a three-goal blitz in 22 first-half minutes and withstood a late rally from the visitors to claim the points.
Headline grabber: Nigerian midfielder Obi Moneke was the match-winner for Henan Jiaye, scoring the late goal that secured a 1-0 win over Nanchang Bayi.
Toluca held their nerve from the penalty spot to take the Bicentenario title in Mexico. Following a goalless draw with Santos Laguna in the second leg of their play-off final (the first ended in a 2-2 draw), Los Diablos Rojos edged the shootout 4-3 to win their tenth league title, taking them level with America and to within one of the country’s most successful club Guadalajara. It was their first championship triumph since the 2008 Apertura, when they also needed penalties to beat Cruz Azul.
The curtain also came down in Argentina as the relegation/promotion play-offs reached their conclusion. The headline-makers were unfashionable All Boys, who won 3-0 at Rosario Central to book their return to the top flight for the first time in 30 years and condemn El Canalla to the second tier 26 years after their last relegation. In the other decider, Gimnasia La Plata beat Atletico Rafaela 3-1 to secure their place in the first division once more.
Atletico Junior and La Equidad will face off in the final of the Torneo Apertura in Colombia. The Barranquilla side lost 1-0 in their semi-final second leg to holders Independiente Medellin but went through 3-2 on aggregate, while the Bogota outfit needed penalties to squeeze past Deportes Tolima after the sides tied 3-3 over the two legs.