World Leagues review
The main focus this weekend was on the Brazilian state championships where silverware was on offer, while in Argentina and Mexico the season is fast heading for its climax. It is still early days in Japan and USA, while in Morocco a shock result in the Casablanca derby has reopened the title race. FIFA.com takes you on an armchair ride across some of the football highlights across the globe.
Brazilian State Championships: Big guns claim silverware
The Ronaldo-inspired Corinthians seem likely to have a major say in the 2009 Brazilian title race after becoming the first unbeaten Paulista state champions in 40 years with a 1-1 draw giving them a 4-2 aggregate win over Santos. Ronaldo scored a brace in last week's first leg but this week the former FIFA World Cup™ winner was more subdued and it was Santos who went ahead when Kleber Pereira won and converted a penalty, but Andre Santos levelled for Corinthians before half-time. The result extended their unbeaten streak at the Pacaembu stadium to 25 matches. Meanwhile, Atletico Paranaense claimed the Parana State title with a 2-0 triumph over Cianorte.
High stakes: Cruzeiro easily claimed the Minas Gerais final in Belo Horizonte with a 1-1 draw against Atletico Mineiro following a 5-0 win the previous week. Cruzeiro extended their unbeaten run against their bitter rivals to 12 games. The match was a feisty affair with red cards for Atletico's Welton and Cruzeiro's Wellington Paulista.
Headline-grabber: Flamengo goalkeeper Bruno played a major role as his side claimed the Carioca championship after beating Botafogo in the final for the third year running. After both matches finished 2-2 Flamengo won 4-2 on penalties with Bruno saving two spot kicks having already saved one penalty during normal time.
Argentinian Clausura: Frontrunners stumble
After their two closest rivals going into Matchday 12 lost, leaders Velez Sarsfield failed to take full advantage by drawing 0-0 at San Martin. Lanus remained second despite losing 3-0 at home to Estudiantes, but Colon dropped one place to fourth following defeat at Argentinos Juniors.
Huracan beat Godoy Cruz 3-2 to climb to third, four points off the pace, while the title hopes of fifth-placed River Plate took a significant blow when they went down 1-0 at Newell's Old Boys, whose nine-game winless streak was ended by Mauro Formica's strike.
High stakes: Racing boosted their survival chances with a convincing 4-1 reverse of struggling Arsenal.
Headline-grabber: Victor Lopez's last-gasp header snatched Banfield a 3-2 win over Boca Juniors that moved the visitors up to eighth.
Mexican Clausura: Season hots up
With just one round remaining, Pachuca are the current leaders thanks to a 5-1 win over Jaguares, but they hold their place at the top thanks only to goal difference. At the other end of the spectrum Tigres are set to vie with Necaxa for relegation on the final weekend, after the latter drew 1-1 with Atlante.
High stakes: The University derby saw Tecos UAG triumph 2-0 over their more-fancied rivals Pumas UNAM, with the two now separated by just one point to set up a grandstand finish in Group 2.
Headline-grabber: Though playing in front of empty stands Chilean striker Hector Mancilla provided the star-turn with his hat-trick helping Toluca to a 4-1 win over relegation-haunted Tigres. Despite missing a penalty Mancilla brought his league tally to 12, behind only the tournament's scoring leader Salvador Cabanas of Paraguay with 14.
Japan J.League: Challengers held at bay
Kashima Antlers maintained top spot in the J.League thanks to a stylish 2-0 win at JEF United. Goals from Takuya Nozawa and Mitsuo Ogasawara held second-placed Urawa Red Diamonds at bay. Asian champions Gamba Osaka continue to move steadily up the pecking order and are now into fourth thanks to a 3-1 triumph at struggling Oita Trinita. Akihiro Ienaga's opener for the home side was pegged back by Leandro before half-time, with Gamba's Korea Republic striker Cho Jae-Jin scoring twice in the second half to win the game and take his season tally to six.
High stakes: A last-minute goal from charismatic defender Marcos Tulio Tanaka was enough for the continental superpower to see off rivals to rivals Albirex Niigata at a heaving Saitama Stadium.
Headline-grabber: Naohiro Ishikawa scored a hat-trick to give FC Tokyo a 3-2 win over Omiya Ardija. The 27-year-old midfielder is in a rich vein of form to move to five goals for the campaign, two behind the pacesetters.
In the MLS Chivas USA extended their lead at the top of the Western Standings to six points as a lone strike from Justin Braun was enough to see off San Jose Earthquakes in a Californian derby. Seattle Sounders remain in second, despite playing with ten men for the majority of the second half after the dismissal of striking sensation Fredy Montero, in their 1-1 draw with Chicago Fire. The Sounders taking the lead through Marco Pappa, thanks to an assist from Cuauhtemoc Blanco, only for Tyrone Marshall to level soon after with Freddie Ljungberg the provider. In the Eastern Conference DC United edged top on goal difference ahead of Toronto FC thanks to a double from Jaime Moreno against Dallas, with the Canadian-side only able to draw 1-1 against Columbus Crew.
In the Moroccan Botola, Wydad Casablanca kept alive their title aspirations by sensationally wining the derby against league leaders Raja. The Green Devils of Raja still have a six point lead over FAR Rabat who won 2-0 over bottom-placed Mohammedia, with Wydad a further two points adrift.