Down to the wire
© AFP

The Brasileirao and the J-League have provided two of the most exciting league races this year, and as both head into their final day, things are far from cut and dried at the top, and just as tense at the bottom. In Argentina, meanwhile, there is the unusual spectacle of the traditional Buenos Aires giants sitting at opposite ends of the table, while a new face has joined the leading pack in Australia. FIFA.com reviews the pick of the weekend action.

Brasileirao: So near, so far
The fingernails of Sao Paulo fans will have to endure another week of biting, after the Tricolor Paulista were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Fluminense. Prolific striker Borges scrambled home an equalizer to cancel out Tarta's opener, but the home side were unable to breach the defence of the Copa Libertadores finalists thereafter. Gremio did not pass up the chance to gain ground on Sao Paulo, steamrolling now-relegated Ipatinga 4-1 away from home. The leaders still have three points on Gremio going into the final day, but they will take nothing for granted, as Gremio, critically, are ahead on games won.

Big game: Cruzeiro suffered a major setback in their quest for a Copa Libertadores place, losing to a single goal in Porto Alegre against Internacional. An early strike from veteran international Gustavo Nery was enough to leave A Raposa sweating on their final game against relegated Portuguesa.
Headline-grabber: Flamengo's iconic striker Obina appeared to have given O Mengão a huge boost in the Copa Libertadores race with an early brace against Goias at the Maracana. Remarkably, however, the visitors clawed back a three-goal deficit to leave the Rio giants with plenty to do on the final day as well.

Argentinian Apertura: Boca singing after the rain
Boca Juniors remain two points clear at the top of the table following a 2-1 victory over Racing Club at the Bombonera. As so often, it was Juan Roman Riquelme who saw Los Xeneizes over the line, with a penalty in the 40th minute followed by a crisp volley on the hour. On Saturday, early leaders San Lorenzo had gone a goal down and a man up at rivals Huracan before torrential rain forced the postponement of the game. Meanwhile, unfancied Tigre crept into second, while Lanus kept in touch with the leaders, defeating Arsenal 2-1.

Big game: It went from bad to worse for River Plate when they suffered their eighth loss of the season at high-flying Tigre. Although Paraguayan striker Santiago Salcedo gave River the lead after only two minutes, a brace from Carlos Luna set Tigre on the way to a 3-1 win, and to second place on the table, River remaining anchored to the bottom.
Headline-grabber: Although it was Carlos Luna and Christian Bardaro who scored the goals against River, again it was Tigre's late-blooming No10 Martin Morel who was at the heart of everything, setting up two goals and bossing the midfield throughout. How long before an international call-up beckons?

Japanese J-League: Down to the last day
For the second week running, Kashima Antlers held onto their lead at the top of the J-League by the skin of their teeth: a winning goal in stoppage time from defender Daiki Iwamasa kept Nagoya, comfortable 3-1 winners over rock-bottom Consadole Sapporo, at bay for the moment. Two points ahead going into the final day, Antlers face the already-relegated Hokkaido side themselves next weekend. Nagoya seem to have the more difficult task, away to Oita Trinita, but final rounds obey rules of their own making...

Big game: Asian champions Gamba Osaka sent their predecessors Urawa Reds tumbling out of the title race with a 1-0 win at the Expo '70 stadium. After both sides had been reduced to ten men, it was Japan international Yasuhito Endo who sealed the points for the hosts six minutes from time.
Headline-grabber: Former youth international Takenori Hayashi could not possibly have chosen a better time to score the first goal of his second stint with Kyoto Purple Sanga. His 58th-minute equalizer against Omiya Ardija was enough to ensure his side's survival in the J-League.

Australian A-League: Kiwis into unknown territory
Leaders Melbourne Victory became the latest team to feel the force of Wellington Phoenix's recent revival when they went down 2-1 at the Westpac Stadium, Shane Smeltz scoring one of the goals of the season to seal the win for the New Zealanders. Wellington thus temporarily moved into the top four...a unique experience for them this late in the season. Melbourne's closest challengers did not seize the chance to gain ground, however, with Adelaide, Queensland and the Central Coast Mariners all drawing.

Big game: Once again, Queensland Roar looked set to take all three points from hosts Sydney FC, when Matt McKay scrambled home an early goal and they held their advantage into the second half. And once again, a messy equalizer, this time from Steve Corica, left the northerners frustrated.
Headline-grabber: Big Adelaide defender Sasa Ognenovski has scored his fair share of important goals over the years, and his last-minute equalizer against champions Newcastle was one such. In the third minute of injury time, Ognenovski's looping header gave the AFC Champions League finalists a valuable point in the race for the premiership.

Elsewhere
Santos Laguna, Atlante, Toluca and Cruz Azul marched on to the semi-finals of Mexico's Apertura on a dramatic weekend of matches. Despite their impressive first-leg win, Santos looked in danger of elimination in the away leg against San Luis, before two goals in the final ten minutes made the tie safe. Atlante and Tigres could not be separated by normal means, drawing both legs 1-1, but Atlante advanced due to their higher league position. In the other two ties, Toluca saw off ten-man Tecos at home, while Cruz Azul were not fazed by a third-minute goal from hosts Pumas UNAM, romping to an eventual 3-1 win.

A first-half double from Waleed Souliman kept Petrojet on top of the pile in Egypt, as they took three points away to Telecom. In the much-anticipated clash between second-placed ENPPI and African club champions Al Ahly, the former looked headed for defeat when they trailed 3-1 fifteen minutes from time, Mohamed Barakat and Flavio Amado having been on target for the Cairo giants. Yet a double from Ahmad Abdel Raof gave the engineers an unlikely point, and made the task of catching up with the leaders all the more difficult for the defending champions.