This weekend’s action saw Corinthians leapfrog Fluminense into top spot in Brazil, San Lorenzo move clear in Argentina, Cruz Azul continue their flying start in Mexico and yet more MLS brilliance from Landon Donovan. FIFA.com updates you all this and more in its weekly tour of the major leagues outside Europe.
Argentinian Apertura: San Lorenzo go top, Banfield on the rise
With Velez Sarsfield, Estudiantes and River Plate all level on points at the top going into the weekend, the trio’s failure to win their respective games enabled San Lorenzo, 3-1 comeback victors over Olimpo, to go a point clear at the summit. In-form Banfield, for their part, moved into title contention with a 4-0 thrashing of struggling Independiente.
High stakes: On the back of four straight defeats, Racing Club were in desperate need of a win when they welcomed Lanus to Avellaneda. And win they did, by a score of 4-0 in a game packed with incident and featuring two red cards for the visitors.
Headline-grabber: Martin Palermo once again proved just why he is one of the league’s most feared marksmen after grabbing one of Boca Juniors' goals in the 3-1 defeat of Colon. Already leading the Apertura scoring chart with five, El Loco would have increased his tally but for a missed penalty.
Brasileirao: Corinthians reclaim first place
Having laid the groundwork with 15 September’s 2-1 away win over leaders Fluminense, Corinthians picked up another maximum haul three days later with a 3-0 victory over bottom side Gremio Prudente. Flu’s failure to win once more meant they surrendered top spot after 12 matchdays in pole position, with O Timão now two points clear with a game in hand. Copa Libertadores champions Internacional, meanwhile, continued their recent good form to drag themselves back into the title race with a 1-0 reverse of Vasco da Gama.
High stakes: The first Fla-Flu derby to be held in Rio de Janeiro’s Engenhao stadium was certainly a memorable affair, with struggling Flamengo going in 2-1 at the interval after goals from Deivid and David had overturned Leandro Euzebio’s early header. Pegged back by an effort from Flu’s Rodriguinho, Os Rubro-Negros once again took the lead via Renato’s well-taken free kick only for Rodriguinho’s second of the game to salvage a point for O Tricolor.
Headline-grabber: Having already earned a starting berth for Sao Paulo as Marcelinho, O Tricolor Paulista’s 18-year-old phenomenon Lucas has not lost any momentum since successfully asking to be referred to by his preferred name. Indeed, the youngster scored one and set up another for Fernandao in his club’s 2-0 victory at Palmeiras.
American Major League Soccer: Donovan on fire
Los Angeles Galaxy picked up their second win in seven days, with a quick-fire late brace from Landon Donovan sealing a 2-1 comeback success at home to DC United. David Beckham again appeared off the bench for the Western Conference leaders, thus continuing his return from the injury that forced him out of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, and helped his side move to 50 points and three clear of Real Salt Lake.
High stakes: FC Dallas extended their unbeaten run to 15 games with a 2-2 draw against New York Red Bulls, who required an 82nd-minute own goal from Jair Benitez to salvage a point. Dallas’s 12th draw of the season keeps them in third spot in the West, while the ambitious Red Bulls, recently boosted by the arrivals of Rafa Marquez and Thierry Henry, are now just three points short of Eastern Conference leaders Columbus Crew.
Headline-grabber: The touch paper appears to have finally been lit on Blaise Nkufo’s career at Seattle Sounders. In his sixth game for his new club, the Swiss international got off the mark in fine style when firing a hat-trick in the 4-0 away win over the Crew, who thus lost their second game in a row.
Cruz Azul continued their fine start to the Mexican Apertura when collecting their seventh win from eight games. Their 3-0 success against Queretaro takes them to 21 points and cements their lead at the top of both Group C and the overall standings. Santos Laguna and unbeaten Monterrey won 2-1 and 2-0 over Necaxa and Atlas respectively to take their tallies to 18 points and stay level at the top of Group A. The high-flying duo also boast the competition’s most prolific strikers in the shape of Santos’s nine-goal Christian Benitez and Monterrey’s eight-goal Humberto Suazo. Both got on the score-sheet at the weekend, with the former firing an injury-time winner.
Hogging the glory in the J-League were Brazilian stars, with Marquinhos helping himself to all his side’s three goals in Kashima Antlers’ 3-0 home win over Omiya Ardija. That victory takes them to 43 points and second spot, five short of Nagoya Grampus, who were held 1-1 at home by Yokohama Marinos. Juninho was another Brazilian to grab a hat-trick, hitting his treble in Kawasaki Frontale’s 6-1 demolition of bottom side Shonan Bellmare.
And finally to the K-League, where Jeju United made the most of closest rivals FC Seoul’s free matchday to move four points clear at the top. Jeju won 1-0 away to a Seongnam Chunma side struggling with fatigue after securing a place in the last four of the AFC Champions League. Gyeongnam FC, for their part, strengthened their grip on third place after a 2-0 away win over a Suwon Bluewings outfit still reeling from their Champions League exit.