Fla, Chivas cheer as Xeneizes lose thriller

There were some outstanding individual performances this weekend in leagues across the Americas, with Ronaldinho, Ernesto Farias, Blas Perez and Matias Rodriguez just some of the players making the difference in their respective fixtures. FIFA.com has the details on those stories and more as it rounds up the latest action from North and South America.

Argentinian Clausura: Tigre top but not in clear
Despite going two points clear at the summit yesterday with a 2-0 defeat of Banfield, Tigre will not be resting easy as they still occupy one of the automatic relegation positions in the three-season averaged standings.

Third-placed Boca surrendered top spot after their 33-match unbeaten run came to an end in one of the most exciting Argentinian league games for years. The defending champions, who let in a miserly six goals in last year’s Apertura and had yet to concede this season, shipped five goals at the Bombonera against Independiente, who themselves had lost their four other games in the current campaign. On a surreal evening, Boca battled back from an early two-goal deficit to go 4-3 ahead with just minutes remaining. However, the final word went to Independiente’s Ernesto Farias, who completed his hat-trick with two last-gasp strikes to seal a scarcely believable 5-4 win for the visitors.

Avellaneda’s other top-flight side, Racing, also had a hat-trick hero at the weekend, with Lucas Castro firing three past All Boys to give Alfio Basile his first win since taking over La Academia.

Brazilian State Championships: Veterans take centre stage
In the first edition of the Fla-Flu derby in this its centenary year, Flamengo took the honours with a 2-0 victory at the Engenhao. Ronaldinho was both hero and villain for O Rubro-Negro, converting a penalty only later to be sent off. Fluminense, with one eye on their Libertadores assignment in midweek, rested several first-choice players and paid the price. The win leaves Flamengo in fourth spot in Group A of the Taco Rio, the second phase of the Campeonato Carioca. Meanwhile in Group B, Juninho Pernambucano scored as Vasco da Gama downed Madureira 3-0 to consolidate their hold of top spot.

In the Campeonato Paulista, Corinthians remain out front despite drawing 1-1 with Guarani, while Santos also fielded a changed side ahead of their Libertadores fixture and suffered a 3-1 reverse at the hands of modest Mogi Mirim. Also in the headlines this weekend were Luis Fabiano, who scored on his return from injury in Sao Paulo’s 2-1 defeat of Portuguesa, Jorge Valdivia, who helped Palmeiras to a 6-2 triumph against Botafogo, and Walter Montillo, the star of Cruzeiro’s 2-0 victory over Villa Nova in the Campeonato Mineiro. 

Mexican Clausura: Tight at both ends
Santos Laguna moved to the top of the standings on goals scored after a 3-1 win over Puebla, although they share 20 points and an identical goal difference with Monarcas Morelia, who slipped to a 2-1 home defeat against Toluca on Friday.

Guadalajara confirmed their fine recent form with an impressive 2-1 home win over Cruz Azul. Having been near the foot of the table early in the season, the Rebaño Sagrado are now just four points off the championship play-off spots.

For their part, America dropped two points against newly-promoted Tijuana, who held on for 1-1 draw on home turf despite finishing the game with nine men. Much of the credit for the latter’s lofty position must go to their Argentinian coach Antonio Mohamed, who has lost just once in his 18 games in charge. If pre-season all the talk was about securing top flight status, now the target Los Xolos would appear to be the play-offs.

And while a few weeks ago, it looked like being a straight battle between Atlas and Estudiantes Tecos to avoid relegation to the second tier, Queretaro now find themselves in the mix after another defeat, this time 4-1 away to Monterrey.

American Major League Soccer: Back with a bang
Football fans stateside did not have to wait long for the first surprise of the new season, with defending champions Los Angeles Galaxy going down 3-1 at home to Real Salt Lake on the opening weekend. After taking the lead through Edson Buddle, the visitors hit back with an own-goal from Sean Franklin and strikes from Javier Morales and Fabian Espindola.

Elsewhere, Panamanian striker Blas Perez enjoyed a memorable first outing for FC Dallas, laying on assists for Zach Loyd and Ricardo Villar. And while Kenny Cooper pulled one back for New York Red Bulls, it was not enough to prevent them going down 2-1.

Another player making an impressive debut was Frenchman Sebastien Le Toux. The former Philadelphia Union man had a hand in Vancouver Whitecaps’ opening goal in their 2-0 defeat of recently promoted Canadian outfit Montreal Impact.

Elsewhere
Olimpia returned to the top of the Apertura in Paraguay courtesy of their hard-fought 1-0 win over Libertad coupled with Cerro Porteno’s 2-0 reverse at the hands of Nacional on Matchday 6. In neighbouring Uruguay, meanwhile, Liverpool prevailed 2-1 against Bella Vista to go clear at the top with four wins from four. Penarol, remain second, with a game in hand.

Lastly to Chile, where Universidad de Chile hit the front after six rounds of the Apertura thanks to a 6-0 rout of Audax Italiano, a hat-trick from Matias Rodriguez and strikes from Eugenio Mena, Junior Fernandes and Raul Ruidiaz doing the damage. O’Higgins, one of the revelations of the new season, slipped from first to third after a 2-1 loss to Universidad Catolica, who now occupy second spot two points behind the leaders. Finally, Santiago heavyweights Colo Colo, languishing in 11th place, had a day to forget after losing 2-0 at home to Deportes La Serena.