A series of hat-tricks lit up the big games in Brazil, while one of the most anticipated matches of the weekend resulted in a goalless draw. Meanwhile, PUMA edged Morelia to take sole position at the top in Mexico, while a 4-0 victory lifted Racing Club to first place in Argentina. FIFA.com rounds up those stories and more in its Latin America league review.
Brazilian state championships: Trebles abound
With the notable exception of a hard-fought goalless draw between Flamengo and Fluminense, it was a weekend of goals galore for the big clubs in Brazil, with a handful of strikers helping themselves to hat-tricks. Vasco’s Bernardo scored three in a 4-2 win over Madureira, while Cruzeiro’s Thiago Ribeiro did the same in a 7-0 thrashing of Democrata. Vitoria’s Elkeson and Internacional’s Leandro Damiao also tallied three goals apiece, while Corinthians’ substitute Willian replaced Liedson in style with a brace in a 3-2 win over Mirassol.
Big game: Expectations surrounding Ronaldinho’s first Fla-Flu derby had run high ever since the Brazilian joined Flamengo in January. However, neither the former FIFA World Player nor Fluminense were able to break the deadlock of a tense, gritty match that ended up with Muricy Ramalho announcing that he will no longer coach Fluminense, Brazil's defending champions.
Headline-grabber: After exactly 199 days, one of Brazil’s brightest young talents returned to action after recovering from a knee injury. Santos' Paulo Henrique Ganso took just ten minutes to make a difference after he entered the match against Botafogo at half-time. Ganso started the move that led to his team's first goal and scored the second in the club’s 2-0 victory. Santos share Paulista top spot with the three other big clubs in the state: Sao Paulo, Palmeiras and Corinthians, all of whom have 28 points.
Mexican Clausura: Derbies yield mixed emotions
In a Guadalajaran derby, Atlas drew 1-1 with Chivas at Estadio Jalisco. Eric Torres put Atlas ahead early in the first half but Flavio Santos levelled for the visitors in the 61st minute. Cruz Azul came out ahead in the battle for Mexico City, meanwhile, as America crashed to their neighbours in a 2-0 defeat, with Emanuel Villa scoring twice in the space of three minutes.
Big game: At the Estadio Morelos, Pumas UNAM edged Morelia 1-0 in a Group 3 battle to move top, Francisco Palencia scoring the lone goal ten minutes into the second half. The victory continues Pumas' undefeated run and puts them five points ahead of their nearest competitor U.A.N.L, who are in Group 1.
Headline-grabber: In a 2010 Clausura final replay, Toluca shocked Santos in a 3-1 victory, with Jaime Javier Ayovi Corozo nodding home within a minute of the second half kicking off. Diego Novaretti deepened the wound by netting five minutes later, and Emmaunel Cerda rounded out the scoring as Toluca fought back from Oribe Peralta's first-half opener.
Argentinian Clausura: A goal’s the difference
After a single-goal victory over struggling Boca Juniors, San Lorenzo enjoyed a day at the top of the Clausura, but Racing Club's 4-0 defeat of Colon de Santa Fe pushed Lorenzo down to second place. Aureliano Torres scored the only goal after 66 minutes to put San Lorenzo level on points with Olimpo de Bahia Blanca and Banfield.
Elsewhere, an Ezequiel Maggiolo goal secured a narrow 1-0 victory for Olimpo over All Boys, who lost Eduardo Dominguez in the final minutes of the match. Banfield substitute Facundo Ferreira scored a 90th-minute stinger to give his club a 2-1 win over Tigre and give El Taladro its third consecutive away victory. In another single-goal scoreline, Argentinos Juniors ended a run of four straight draws with victory over Arsenal de Sarandi. Estudiantes, victorious in three of their first four matches, slipped to a 1-0 home defeat against Godoy Cruz. Israel Damonte got the only goal on the hour as Godoy moved into the top half.
Big game: Santiago Silva scored a double in Velez Sarsfield’s crucial 2-1 win over River Plate. Ricardo Gareca’s side nabbed the lead in the 34th minute, only for River’s striker Marione Pavone to convert a penalty three minutes into the second half. El Fortín would not accept a draw, though, and Silva found the goal once more just six minutes from time. The win moved Velez level on eight points with their opponents.
Headline-grabber: With the weekend’s largest margin of victory, Racing Club moved up to first place. Pablo Luguercio put them on the scoreboard within 15 minutes, and Teofilo Antonio Gutierrez scored a double in between, before Gabriel Hauche topped off the 4-0 victory over Colon de Santa Fe, who dropped to 13th place.
In a six-goal thriller, 3 de Febrero drew 3-3 with third-placed Libertad in Paraguay. Rodolfo Vicente Gamarra put Libertad ahead in the 14th minute, but Febrero gave the title hopefuls a scare and responded with three successive goals. However, two reds were shown to reduce Febrero to nine men, and Libertad duly levelled thanks to two Nicolas Pavlovich goals. Nacional dropped points in a goalless stalemate with Sportivo Luqueno and lie second, while Olimpia stayed in first place despite a 3-1 loss to Rubio Nu.
In Chile, Colo Colo caused a surprise with a 2-0 win over second-place Union La Calera. Universidad Catolica are three points clear at the top of the Apertura after winning 2-0 over bottom-side Nublense. Uruguay’s top two teams had tough results over the weekend as first-place Defensor Sporting drew 1-1 with Bella Vista and Tacuarembo FC lost 1-0 to Miramar.
In Ecuador, LDU Quito moved into second-place with a 2-0 win over Espoli, while a double from Bernardo Chila Ayovi against Emelec bumped El Nacional into fourth. Finally, CD Aguila defeated La Firpo ,1-0 reversing their roles at the top of El Salvador’s Primera Division. Aguila now lead the league with a one-point advantage over their title rivals.