Mixed fortunes for leaders
© AFP

While Ronaldo sat out a disappointing draw for Corinthians in Brazil, Gamba Osaka seized J.League pole position and Lanus clung on to the top spot in Argentina. With plenty of drama in Mexico, South Africa and elsewhere, FIFA.com looks back on the weekend's best league action from outside Europe.

Argentinian Clausura: Lanus hold bragging rights
Surprise package Lanus remain top after scoring twice in the space of three minutes, through Diego Valeri and Cristian Menendez, to secure a 2-1 win over Colon in Round 6. A win for Colon would have seen the team from Sante Fe move to the top, as the traditional big clubs continue to drop points in an intriguing title chase.

Key matches ended in stalemate, with runners-up Velez Sarsfield spurning an opportunity to push closer to the summit with a 1-1 home draw with River Plate, who remain fourth. Also ending level were Newell's Old Boys and Huracan, who shared four goals in an entertaining affair. At the other end, the popular but financially troubled Racing Club won for the first time in the championship, beating Godoy Cruz 1-0 with a 75th-minute header from Pablo Caballero.

Big game: A typically heaving Bombonera celebrated a 3-0 home triumph for Boca Juniors over Argentinos Juniors, who have yet to record a win all season. Goals from defender Juan Forlin and strikers Luciano Figueroa and Rodrigo Palacio moved the club to ninth with nine points from six games, but still six points off the pace.

Headline grabber: A tumultuous week for Boca's playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme ended on a bright note as the enigmatic star helped his side to an important win after losing three of their last four outings. The crowd at the Bombonera gave the midfielder a warm reception in the wake of his high-profile retirement from the national team.

Brazilian State Championships: Corinthians miss Ronaldo
After scoring in consecutive matches, Ronaldo found himself back on the sidelines as coach Mano Menezes decided against stepping up the striker's comeback against Santo Andre on Sunday. The desire to protect the three-time former FIFA World Player of the Year was understandable, although O Timão could have done with Ronaldo's renowned predatory instincts in a drab 0-0 draw.

Disappointing enough in itself, this result was made all the worse as it led to ground being lost on Sao Paulo championship leaders Palmeiras, who cruised to a 3-0 win over Barueri on Saturday to move on to 33 points, three clear of Corinthians. Over in Rio de Janeiro, meanwhile, Vasco edged Boavista 1-0, while Botafogo defeated Cabofriense 4-0.

Big game: Carlos Alberto Parreira has made a fine start to his time in charge of Fluminense and the former Brazil coach continued in a winning vein with a 3-1 victory over Macae.

Headline grabber: It says much for the impact Ronaldo has made since returning to fitness that, even on the sidelines, he continued to dominate debate. Menezes pleaded the case for the wrapping the striker in cotton wool: "We have to be careful. Now is not the time to run risks. We cannot let all the excitement get in the way of our plans."

Mexico: Pumas hold their nerve
In the exceptionally tight Group 2, where only six points separate top and bottom, leaders Pumas UNAM maintained their grip on pole position with a comprehensive 3-1 win over Atlante. Martin Bravo was on target twice for the pace-setters, for whom victory - coupled with Guadalajara's 1-0 home loss to Atlas - increased their lead to four points.

Toluca, meanwhile, came from two goals behind at Santos Laguna to claim a 2-2 draw that keeps them four points clear at the top of Group 3. Second-placed Jaguares had drawn 0-0 at Tecos UAG on Friday.

Big game: While leads were maintained or increased elsewhere, there was a narrowing of the gap in Group 1, where Monterrey moved to within two points of Pachuca with a 2-0 victory over the leaders in which Humberto Suazo scored the decisive goal.

Headline grabber: America's talented Paraguayan striker Salvador Cabanas made a timely return to scoring form, grabbing a double in his side's 3-1 win at Cruz Azul. The victory kept the star-studded Mexico City outfit within four points of Pumas in Group 2.

Japanese J.League: Asian champions state domestic credentials
Order was partly restored in the Japanese J.League, with AFC Champions League champions Gamba Osaka moving to the top of the standings after newly-promoted Montedio Yamagata had held sway after the opening round. Following their midweek exertions in Asia, Gamba were playing their third match in seven days but still proved far too strong for Jubilo Iwata, winning 4-1 with a double from star midfielder Yasuhito Endo.

Tiny Montedio Yamagata may have failed to remain at the top but they showed they will be a force to be reckoned with after securing a goalless draw with Champions League combatants Nagoya Grampus.

Big game: Albirex Niigata joined Gamba as the only side with a 100 per cent record after upsetting defending champions Kashima Antlers 2-1. Niigata took an early lead through the forward duo of Kishio Yano and Brazilian Pedro Junior, with Kashima only able to pull a goal back in injury time through Daiki Iwamasa.

Headline grabber: Known as 'King Kazu' to all Japanese football fans, Kazuyoshi Miura, the 1993 Asian Player of the Year extended his own record as the J.League's oldest goalscorer. The 42-year-old from the penalty spot on 12 minutes for Yokohama in his club's 2-1 defeat to Kumamoto in a J-League second division match.

Elsewhere
There was no change in New Caledonia where once again top sides Mont Dore and AS Magenta were untroubled in maintaining their dual charge in the Division Honneur. Mont Dore made it 11 straight wins with a 7-0 triumph over Baco while traditional heavyweights Magenta demolished Temala Ouelisse 10-0 as two points still separates the two frontrunners.

South African giants Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs both won to close in further on leaders Supersport United with six rounds remaining. The Pirates scored a 2-0 win against lowly Thanda Royal Zulu in Durban to remain second, three points off the pace. The Chiefs, meanwhile, held on for a 2-1 victory over visiting Wits University to climb above Mamelodi Sundowns into third place, but still six points behind United, whose match was postponed due to a CAF Champions League fixture.