Leaders feeling the heat
© AFP

On a weekend that saw the conclusion of the playoffs in Uruguay and with it the designation of the country's berths in next season's international club competitions, the respective pacesetters in Russia and Brazil both stumbled, leaving their hold on top spot even more precarious. As usual, FIFA.com is on hand to round up the pick of the weekend's action from the world's leagues.  

Brasileiro: Fla losing momentum
Flamengo crashed to their second successive league defeat, going down 1-0 to fourth-placed Vitoria at the Maracana, but still remain in pole position. However, their lead has been whittled down to a solitary point over Gremio, who moved into second place with a 1-0 win over Cruzeiro. Defending champions Sao Paulo, 2-1 winners over Botafogo yesterday, are now up to fifth, while Palmeiras slipped to sixth following their 3-2 reverse against Goias.

Player of the day: Dinei's wining goal against the leaders leaves Vitoria in fourth spot, demonstrating once again that their lofty league position is no fluke. Moreover, if the team from Salvador could finish the campaign in their current position, they would secure qualification for next year's Copa Libertadores.
Headline-grabber: Santos gave a little cheer to their suffering supporters with a badly needed win over Sport that lifted them off the foot of the table and ended a 10-match winless streak.

American Major League Soccer: Teams make their point
Saturday's four fixtures in the MLS all ended in draws. Toronto and San Jose Earthquakes finished scoreless, with Chicago Fire also drawing 0-0 with Real Salt Lake tie, a result that kept the latter one point clear at the top of the Western Conference. Elsewhere Dallas and Colorado Rapids played out a 2-2 draw in Texas, while Los Angeles Galaxy had a similar result away to New York Red Bulls.

Player of the day: Landon Donovan earned his Galaxy side a precious point with a 92nd-minute equaliser in New York and kept them hot on the heels of leaders Real Salt Lake.
Headline-grabber: Toronto managed to keep their unbeaten home record intact after holding out against San Jose on an evening of torrential rain in Canada.

J.League: Kashima take pole for now
After a 2-0 win over Yokohama F Marinos, defending champions Kashima Antlers (34 pts) moved into top spot, a position they will hold at least until Monday evening, when their main championship rivals, Urawa Red Diamonds, will have a chance to overtake them with a win against Kawasaki Frontale. Third-placed Gamba Osaka, who saw off bottom side JEF United Chiba, are also right in contention, boasting the same number of points as the Reds (32) but having played a game more.

Player of the day: Masato Yamazaki came off the bench to grab an 89th-minute winner for Gamba Osaka and keep his side very much in the title race.
Headline-grabber: Kashima's Brazilian striker, Marquinhos, scorer of his side's opening goal this Sunday, remains top of the J.League's scoring charts this season with 12. Following close behind are Gamba Osaka's Bare on 10 and Albirex Niigata's Alessandro on nine.

Other leagues
In Uruguay the country's berths for next season's South American club competitions were settled this weekend. Penarol secured a return to the Copa Libertadores after a three-year absence. The five-time continental champions, who have competed in the prestigous competition more often than any other side, booked their ticket after a 2-2 draw with Rampla Juniors on the final day of the liguilla (end-of-season mini-league). River Plate, for their part, earned a spot in the 2008 Copa Sudamericana, as did Defensor Sporting, who will also compete in the Libertadores as Uruguayan champions. Nacional, who will enter next season's Copa Libertadores in the second round, will now face Defensor Sporting to decide the winners of the six-team mini-league.

Rubin Kazan remain in pole position in the Russian league despite only managing a scoreless draw away to Grozny this Sunday. Amkar Perm missed out on an opportunity to hit the front by going down 2-0 to Zenit St Petersburg, while CSKA Moscow also let slip a chance to break into the top four after losing out 2-0 to FC Moscow.

Meanwhile, in Peru, the final matchday of the 2008 Apertura took place this weekend, with champions Universitario downing Megar 2-0 and runners-up Sporting Cristal emphatically beating Sport Boys 5-1. Further north in Colombia, the Torneo Finalizacion got underway with a crushing 5-0 victory for Santa Fe against Bogota's Nacional. The winner of this tournament will take the country's second berth for the 2009 Copa Libertadores, the first having already gone to Boyaca Chico by virtue of their victory in this year's Apertura Championship.