Drama across planet football
The dominance of the traditional big guns is under siege in Argentina, Brazil and Costa Rica. In Malaysia and South Africa, the title race remains tight, while just three teams remain in the hunt for gold in Australia. FIFA.com reflects on an engrossing few days of action outside of Europe.
Argentinian Clausura: Tight race shaping up
Newell's Old Boys, Huracan and Arsenal remain the only teams with a 100 per cent success rate after two rounds. Apertura 2008 champions Boca Juniors slumped to a shock 2-0 defeat at home to Newell's Old Boys. Not even the return of striker Martin Palermo, a cult hero at the Bombonera, after a six-month lay-off could halt Robert Sensini's men from claiming all three points.
Big game: After finishing bottom of the Apertura, River Plate secured a morale-boosting 2-1 win at Rosario Central.
Headline grabber: River Plate fans have a new hero. Cristian 'The Ogre' Fabbiani scored a much-needed winner with a 25-metre drive.
Brazilian State Championships: Paulista rivals share spoils
Tempers flared in the Clássico Majestoso as Sao Paulo and Corinthians battled to a 1-1 draw. The match was notable only for three dismissals, until the two sides shared a goal apiece in the final 15 minutes. Corinthians remained second in the Paulistao, three points behind leaders Palmeiras, while Sao Paulo stayed third.
Big game: Cruzeiro extended their unbeaten record against Atletico Mineiro in the Belo Horizonte derby to ten games, with a 2-1 win in the Minas Gerais championship. Ramires and Soares gave Cruzeiro a 2-0 half-time lead, with the in-form Diego Tardelli pulling one back with a second-half penalty.
Headline grabber: Gremio striker Jonas scored twice within a six-minute spell to help his side win 2-1 at Avenida in the Campeonato Gaucho.
Costa Rican: Giants back on track
Perennial championship contenders Deportivo Saprissa will be hoping a come-from-behind win over Herediano will signify the end of their recent slump. With two losses from their previous three starts, Saprissa were forced to rely on goals from Walter Centeno and Alejandro Alpizar, after Oscar Briceno had given the visitors the lead. Big guns Alajuelense also scored an important home win after recent indifferent form, with three unanswered goals against Puntarenas.
Big game: Luis Lara scored a last-minute winner for Perez Zeledon over Carmelita to maintain their status at the top of Group B, ahead of the Herediano and Saprissa.
Headline grabber: National team captain Walter Centeno scored the all-important equaliser for Saprissa, having led his nation to victory over Honduras in Costa Rica's FIFA World Cup™ qualifier just three days earlier.
Malaysian Super League: Champions back on track
Selangor beat Plus FC 3-1 away on Saturday to go jiont-top after seven rounds. They sit alongside Kelantan, who, after a long absence from top-flight football, edged neighbours Terengganu 3-2 at the Sultan Mohd IV Stadium.
Big game: Kedah finally appear to have turned the corner, and have now won two on the trot after winning 1-0 at UPB My team.
Headline grabber: Selangor captain and former national team player, Mohd Amri Yahyah, emerged a hero, scoring twice to help his side to a crucial win.
South African Premiership: Catch-up time
Mamelodi Sundowns took full advantage of their game in hand to reduce SuperSport United's lead to just three points, thanks to a 2-0 triumph over Bidvest Wits. Elsewhere, Kaizer Chiefs moved into third with a hard-fought 2-1 win over relegation-threatened Bloemfontein Celtic, while Moroka Swallows reached fourth but were forced to work equally hard to overcome Soweto rivals Orlando Pirates by the same scoreline.
Big game: Ajax Cape Town dropped to fifth after they were unable to end their four-match winless run at home to lowly AmaZulu.
Headline grabber: Surprise Moriri's brace for Mamelodi Sundowns helped his side to a vital win, and moved him on to nine goals, one off the pace on the scorers' chart, in the process.
Melbourne Victory are just one win away from a second Australian A-League title, after comfortably seeing off Adelaide United and moving into the title decider in a fortnight. Melbourne beat the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2008 participants 4-0 on the night to complete a 6-0 aggregate success. Adelaide must now regroup and try to overcome in-form Queensland Roar next weekend to have another crack at the Victory. Costa Rican international Carlos Hernandez was the architect of Melbourne's win. Despite having played for Los Ticos in their South Africa 2010 qualifier against Honduras just three days earlier, Hernandez scored one and set up three goals in a virtuoso performance.
Maziar Zare's late penalty gave Persepolis a 1-1 draw against Iranian Pro League leaders Esteghlal in one of Asia's great derbies on Friday. The result halted Esteghlal's five-match winning run in front 100,000 spectators at Tehran's Azadi Stadium. Mojtaba Jabbari scored in the 67th minute before Zare kept his nerve in the closing moments to ensure the spoils were shared.