Sides sprint down finishing straight
© AFP

The domestic leagues in Argentina, Brazil, Japan and the USA are drawing towards a conclusion, though the margins between the title contenders are growing smaller by the round. FIFA.com takes a look at what could prove to have been a decisive weekend's action around the world.

Argentinian Apertura: Boca and San Lorenzo go it alone
Tigre lost out on a share of top spot with Boca Juniors and San Lorenzo after conceding a late equaliser against Colon. Boca won 1-0 at Arsenal, while El Ciclón had Aureliano Torres and Gonzalo Bergessio to thank for earning them a 2-1 success at home to Gimnasia Jujuy, which ended a run of four winless games.

The big match: Boca were indebted to talismanic attacking midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme for his winning strike against Arsenal. The victory provided a much-needed boost for the Bombonera faithful after Los Xeneizes' midweek Copa Sudamericana exit.
Headline-grabber: Clausura 2008 champions River Plate remain rooted to the foot of the table after a 3-3 draw with Huracan, with coach Diego Simeone resigning his post at the Millonarios helm in the build-up to the game.

Brasileirao 2008: Sao Paulo stay top
Reigning champions Sao Paulo kept a tight hold on first place after a treble from Borges helped them to a 3-2 win at Portuguesa. Closest rivals Palmeiras lost 1-0 at home to Gremio, who leapfrogged their opponents into second, two points off the pace.

The big match: Belo Horizonte outfit Cruzeiro defeated this year's Copa Libertadores finalists Fluminense 1-0 to stay within four points of the leaders with just four rounds of matches to go. O Tricolor Carioca, for their part, remain mired in the relegation battle.
Headline-grabbers: Corinthians, Brazil's second-most popular club, celebrated the Serie B title at the weekend.

Mexican Apertura: Pumas join San Luis in play-offs
One matchday from the end of the regular league season, only Pumas and San Luis have so far sealed their involvement in the Liguilla, the end-of-season play-offs. Atlante, Tigres and Morelia, who all could have cemented their Liguilla place this weekend, will try again next time out after respective defeats by Necaxa, Toluca and Atlas.

The big match: Pumas put themselves firmly in the hunt for the Apertura 2008 title with a 3-0 win over Tecos, a brace from Paraguay's Dante Lopez and one from Juan Carlos Cacho doing the damage.
Headline-grabber: Clausura 2008 champions Santos Laguna are still not certain of a place in the Liguilla after a 2-2 draw with San Luis, who booked their ticket two matchdays ago.

American Major League Soccer: Conference finalists defined
The top two sides in the regular season of the Eastern Conference, Columbus Crew and Chicago Fire, justified their favourites' tags by disposing of Kansas City Wizards and New England Revolution respectively. The pair will now meet in the Eastern Conference final, pitting two of the MLS's brightest stars, Argentinian Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Cuauhtemoc Blanco of Mexico, against each other.

The big match: The big surprise of the semi-final round was the exit of reigning champions Houston Dynamo at the hands of New York Red Bulls. After a goalless first leg, the Red Bulls cruised to a 3-0 success in Houston, courtesy of goals from Dane RichardsJuan Pablo Angel and John Wolyniec.
Headline-grabber: Real Salt Lake are enjoying their best season since their foundation in 2005. After edging out Chivas USA 3-2 on aggregate, the Utah outfit take on the Red Bulls in the final of the Western Conference, with the winner advancing into the MLS Cup decider.

Japanese J.League: Race closer than ever
Three rounds from the end of the J.League 2008, the race for gold is tighter than ever, with just three points separating the front six sides. Leaders Kashima Antlers' 0-0 draw with Albirex Niigata enabled runners-up Urawa Red Diamonds to move within one point of the summit with a reverse of Consadore Sapporo.

The big match: The duel between Brazilian goal-getters Davi of Sapporo and Uwara's Edmilson ended one apiece, though it was the Red Diamonds who took all three points. Edmilson's decisive second-half strike came after Japanese international Tatsuya Tanaka had cancelled out Davi's early goal.
Headline-grabbers: Hot on heels of the Antlers and Red Diamonds for the crown, and a place at the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2008, are Nagoya Grampus Eight and Oita Trinita, two points behind the leaders, and Kawasaki Frontale and FC Tokyo, one point further back.

Elsewhere
Over in the New Zealand Football Championship, reigning champions Waitakere United, the OFC's representatives at Japan 2008, kicked off the new campaign in fine style with a 4-2 victory over last season's runners-up Team Wellington.