While Cruz Azul consolidated their overall lead in Mexico, second closed on first in both Brazil and Korea Republic. With the play-offs beginning in the USA, FIFA.com reflects on the latest action outside Europe.
Brasileirao: Cruzeiro move level with Fluminense
Having moved clear in first place after Thursday’s 2-0 victory over Gremio, Fluminense were joined at the summit by Cruzeiro after the latter’s 2-0 success at Gremio Prudente, against whom Leo and Robert got on the score-sheet. The pair now have 57 points apiece with six rounds remaining, though Flu have a slight edge thanks to their goal difference of plus-20 to A Raposa’s plus-13.
Big game: The 1-1 scoreline simply does not do justice to the sheer excitement and quantity of goalscoring chances in the clash between Internacional and Santos at the Estadio Beira-Rio. In a match of countless missed opportunities, visitors O Peixe opened the scoring via a stunning 78th-minute strike from Ze Eduardo only for Leandro Damiao to level for O Colorado three minutes later. The result left both teams on 49 points, with Santos in fifth and Internacional one place below them.
Headline-grabber: That draw in Porto Alegre enabled Botafogo to leapfrog the pair into fourth spot and boost their hopes of securing a Copa Libertadores berth. Seemingly heading for a draw away from home against Atletico Mineiro, up stepped the Rio team's talismanic Uruguayan striker Sebastian ‘El Loco’ Abreu to lay on a 76th-minute opener for Edno, before scoring the second himself in a 2-0 success. Joel Santana’s charges now have 51 points, while the defeat sent O Galo back into the relegation zone.
Mexican Apertura: Cruz Azul cement overall lead
One week on from beating Monterrey to deny them the Apertura 2010’s only remaining unbeaten record, Cruz Azul extended their run of good form and cemented their place at the top of the overall standings by inflicting Puebla’s third consecutive defeat. Los Cementeros’ 1-0 win, secured thanks to a Christian Gimenez strike, took the Group 3 leaders on to 35 points. Group 1 top dogs Monterrey are still their closest challengers overall, having moved on to 32 points after a 2-0 away win at Monarcas Morelia courtesy of strikes from Dario Carreno and Neri Cardozo.
Big game: San Luis continued their remarkable recovery from a poor start to the season by ensuring their place at the summit of Group 2 with a hard-fought 2-1 away victory over Toluca. The visitors took a two-goal lead after strikes early in each half from Ecuador’s Michel Arroyo, with Zinha reducing the deficit for the home side on 69 minutes.
Headline-grabber: Toluca’s reverse enabled Group 2 rivals America to move three points clear of them in second spot, on 24 points, thanks to a 4-1 home thrashing of Estudiantes. Las Águilas’ goals were scored by Daniel Marquez (two), Argentinian midfielder Daniel Montenegro and in-form Uruguayan forward Vicente Sanchez.
Major League Soccer: Favourites take charge
The MLS Conference semi-finals kicked off with home wins for Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas, 1-0 and 2-1 versus Columbus Crew and Real Salt Lake respectively, though Eastern Conference winners New York Red Bulls and Western counterparts Los Angeles Galaxy refused to follow that trend. A goal from Estonian midfielder Joel Lindpere gave the Big Apple outfit a 1-0 first-leg success on their visit to San Jose Earthquakes, while the Galaxy downed Seattle Sounders by the same scoreline away from home.
Big game: Reigning MLS champions, boasting the best defensive record of the regular season and unbeaten in 14 games, Real Salt Lake took the lead five minutes into their Western Conference semi-final, first leg courtesy of Argentinian Fabian Espindola. Yet hosts Dallas held their nerve to turn the match on its head through a Jeff Cunningham effort and Eric Avila’s 88th-minute winner.
Headline-grabber: The second leading scorer in the regular season with 17 goals, Edson Buddle is one of the three finalists for the Major League Soccer 2010's MVP award, alongside David Ferreira and Chris Wondolowski. And USA international Buddle will have done his chances no harm whatsoever after firing a stunning long-range winner in the 38th minute of the Galaxy’s victory in Seattle.
Korean K-League: Nip and tuck at the top
The title race is going right to the wire in Korea Republic, where second-placed FC Seoul won 3-1 at home against Busan I’Park to move on to 56 points and just two behind leaders Jeju United, who have one game remaining compared to their rivals’ two. Third-placed Seongnam Chunma bid farewell to their admittedly slim title hopes when being held 2-2 by rock-bottom Gwangju Sangmu.
Big game: Under severe pressure from chasers Seoul, Jeju United showed impressive mental strength to dispatch Daegu 3-0 on Sunday and stay clear in first place.
Headline-grabber: Ulsan Horang were grateful to their South American goal-getters in Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Incheon United. Opening the scoring was Paraguayan forward Jose Ortigoza, once of Brazilian side Palmeiras, while it fell to Colombia’s Carmelo Valencia to round off the win with his team’s third.
The 13th round of matches in the Argentinian Apertura, set to be played at the weekend, were postponed due to a period of national mourning for former President Nestor Kirchner.