World Leagues review

It is often said that reaching the top is easier than staying there, and that statement was given greater credence by events in Brazil and the USA this weekend. The leaders in Japan, Peru and Uzbekistan had a different take on proceedings, however, while uncertainty continues in Ghana and Uruguay. brings you up to date with developments outside Europe.

Brasileirao: Change at the top
Cruzeiro sent out a much-changed line-up with one eye on the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final in midweek, and Atletico Mineiro took full advantage to reclaim top spot with a 3-0 win in the Minas derby. Celso Roth's charges thus benefitted from another slip-up by Porto Alegre's Internacional, who were beaten 3-2 at Atletico Paranaense. Palmeiras and Barueri both won to move fourth and fifth respectively.

Big game: Sao Paulo and Flamengo played out a 2-2 draw at the Morumbi in a game also notable for Adriano's gesture of respect to the home faithful. Having played on loan at O Tricolor Paulista last season, the former Inter Milan striker refused to celebrate his 22nd-minute penalty for his new club.
Headline-grabber: Gremio stunned Ronaldo's Corinthians 3-0, with all three goals coming from headers, to move up to sixth. The result was all the more surprising given that O Timão had not lost by a three-goal margin for nearly three years.

American Major League Soccer: High-flyers duke it out
Despite being held 0-0 at home by Columbus Crew, Chicago Fire moved to the top of a tightly contested Eastern Conference, while their visitors, the reigning MLS champions, dropped to fourth. Behind Chicago on goal difference are Toronto FC, who won 3-1 at San Jose Earthquakes. Over in the Western Conference, new boys Seattle Sounders moved into second place with a 2-1 home success over leaders Houston Dynamo, cutting the gap at the top to three points in the process.

Big game: With David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane in the stands looking on, Los Angeles Galaxy beat local rivals Chivas USA 1-0 and continue to inch up the Western standings. This was the third consecutive 1-0 league win for Landon Donovan and Co.
Headline-grabber: Columbus Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer made no fewer than 11 saves to help the champions secure a goalless draw at Chicago Fire, equalling a feat previously achieved by Brad Friedel (1996), Mark Dougherty (1999) and Jon Busch (2004).

Japanese J.League: Antlers forging ahead
It would seem nothing can stop Kashima Antlers' defence of their crown after they picked up a 2-0 home win over Omiya Ardija to maintain their eight-point lead over closest challengers Urawa Red Diamonds. The 2006 champions have not given up yet, however, and will be buoyed by their 2-1 victory over Sanfrecce Hiroshima, which came courtesy of an Edmilson double.

Big game: A last-minute goal from Carlos Juninho secured a valuable point for Kawasaki Frontale at Albirex Niigata, though both sides were overtaken in the standings thanks to Urawa's victory.
Headline-grabber: Oita Trinita slumped to their 14th defeat in a row when going down 3-1 at home against Jubilo Iwata. Having finished fourth last season, Oita are currently rock-bottom with just four points from 17 matches.

Over in the Ghanaian Premier League, there were surprises aplenty in the penultimate round, with Hearts of Oak the only title hopefuls not to lose. Their 1-1 draw with Berekum Arsenal took them to 49 points and championship success is now in their hands. This after Asante Kotoko, who had jointly held top spot, were beaten away to AshantiGold and remained on 48 points. Two points further back are Heart of Lions, who were beaten by Kessben, while King Faisal Babes are mathematically out of the running after crashing at home against Tema Youth.

In Uruguay, Nacional recorded a 2-1 victory over Defensor Sporting in the first match of the second series of the 2009 Uruguayan Championship final, and now need just a draw in the next game to claim their 31st national title. The first series of the 2009 final culminated in two draws and one win for Nacional, though their opponents were given a reprieve thanks to their better overall regular-season record. El Viola, under coach Jorge Da Silva, must now win on Wednesday to force a third and final match.

Turning to Peru, Universitario strengthened their position at the summit after a comeback success in the superclásico against Alianza Lima. Jose Carlos Fernandez had given Los Íntimos a first-half lead only for Los Cremas to turn the scoreline on its head through Gianfranco Labarthe and Piero Alba goals in the last ten minutes - both from pinpoint Nolberto Solano crosses. Leapfrogging Alianza into second place on goal difference are Sport Uncayo, who beat Cienciano in Cuzco.

Finally to Uzbekistan, where Bunyodkor took a firm stride towards the title with a 2-1 win over Tashkent rivals and closest challengers Pakhtakor. The leaders have now won all 15 of their games so far this season and move nine points clear of Sunday's beaten opponents.