World Leagues review
There was action aplenty across the world's domestic leagues this weekend, with titles decided in Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia. Elsewhere, there is just one match left to determine the champions of Uruguay and Chile, while the leaders in Brazil, Ghana, USA and Japan all faced stern tests and a coaching legend made his debut in Uzbekistan.
Argentinian Clausura: Velez crowned in dramatic finale
One of the most drama-charged Argentina Clausura championships in memory remained in the balance almost until the last kick of the season, as Velez Sarsfield defeated Huracan 1-0 with the match and championship-winning goal coming six minutes from time from Maxi Moralez. Huracan went into the match requiring only a draw to claim their first title since 1973.
Eduardo Dominguez had a goal disallowed for Huracan early on and also hit the woodwork, with these two near-misses coming either side of a fierce hail storm that stopped play. Velez's Uruguayan striker Rodrigo Lopez had a first-half penalty saved by Gaston Monzon, with Moralez' late-winner providing a suitable climactic edge to a remarkably tight season in which the traditional heavyweights failed to shine. It was the seventh league title for Velez, who only lost once in 19 clausura matches.
Big game: Rosario Central, one of Argentina's oldest clubs with four league titles to their credit, were condemned to a relegation/promotion play-off against Belgrano after losing 1-0 at home to Godoy Cruz.
Headline-grabber: Prolific journeyman striker Jose Sand ended the season as the league's top-scorer with 13 goals, helping modest Lanus to third, just two points off the title. Sand scoring a double in his club's 3-2 win at San Martin, to finish one goal clear of Independiente's Daniel Montenegro and Colon's Esteban Fuertes.
Brasileirao: Contrasting fortunes for leaders
A second-half brace from Nilmar helped Internacional regain the lead in the Brazilian Championship with a 2-0 defeat of Nautico in Recife. Inter took advantage of a slip by Atletico Mineiro, who were denied all three points after battling to a 1-1 draw with Botafogo in Belo Horizonte. Atletico went ahead through Eder, but his goal was cancelled out by a strike from Juninho.
Big game: Defending champions Sao Paulo are now just two points above the relegation zone after suffering a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Coritiba.
Headline-grabber: It was a story of two Argentinians as Maxi Lopez and German Herrera grabbed a double apiece to help Gremio overpower Atletico Paranaense 4-1, enabling the Porto Alegre club attempting to put last Wednesday's Copa Libertadores semi-final defeat behind them.
J.League: Leaders hauled back
Defending champions Kashima Antlers were forced to come from a goal down against Kawasaki Frontale to avoid just their second defeat of the season in a top-of-the-table contest. With the Antlers setting a hot pace on eight straight wins, it took an equally in-form Frontale side to clip their wings. Frontale, having won their last six outings, went ahead from the penalty spot through Brazilian Juninho, and though Kashima were reduced to ten men, Shinzo Koroki equalised midway through the second half.
Big game: Big guns Urawa Red Diamonds won 3-2 at Montedio Yamagata to claime a share of second spot, thanks largely to a double from Naohiro Takahara.
Headline-grabber: Striker Pedro Junior's brace, which included a stunning virtuoso effort, was the highlight of Albirex Niigata's 4-0 win over Kashiwa Reysol. The Brazilian moved to second on the J.League goalscorers list behind compatriot Davi of Nagoya Grampus.
American Major League Soccer: Status quo in the east
The Eastern Conference ladder remains congested at the top with DC United maintaining a slender lead on goal difference thanks to their 1-1 draw at Columbus Crew. Chicago Fire moved to within touching distance of DC with a 2-1 home triumph over Colorado Rapids thanks to goals from Guatemala international Marco Pappa and Colombian Wilman Conde. With second-placed Chivas USA not playing this weekend, Houston Dynamo extended their lead in the Western Conference standings to four points with a 1-0 away win at Kansas City Wizards in which Sierra Leone international striker Kei Kamara nodded home the winner.
Big game: The top-of-the-table clash ended in stalemate as Columbus Crew extended their unbeaten home run to 17 matches, just one short of the league record. The visitors took the lead in the 33rd minute through Argentine midfielder Christian Gomez only for Venezuelan forward Alejandro Moreno to equalise in the second half.
Headline-grabber: After recently moving from Chivas USA, Alecko Eskandarian scored just eight minutes into his LA Galaxy debut to give his side a much-needed three points at home against New England Revolution.
In Ghana, Hearts of Oak maintained their two-point lead despite failing to end their winless streak which now stretches to seven matches. With three rounds remaining, Hearts were held to a scoreless draw by Kessben, while second-placed Asante Kotoko drew 3-3 with Liberty Professionals in Accra.
Former FIFA World Cup™-winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari got off to a winning start in Uzbekistan as Bunyodkor recorded a 2-1 win over Nasaf. A brace from Jose Luis Villanueva steered the defending champions and AFC Champions League quarter-finalists to their 14th consecutive win, maintaining their six-point lead over Pakhtakor, who beat Mashal 3-0, with the two giants to meet in a crucial match-up next weekend.
Cerro Porteno squeezed home on the last day of the season to win Paraguay's Apertura championship with a goal from captain Jorge Britez's giving them a 1-0 win over 12 de Octubre. Libertad, who have dominated recent seasons, finished second four points behind Cerro after a 0-0 draw with Tacuary.
A third match will be required to decide the champions in Uruguay after Nacional and Defensor Sporting fought out a 1-1 draw in their second leg, repeating the scoreline of a fortnight earlier. In a match played at frantic pace at the Centenario in Montevideo, Adrian Romero fired his team ahead in the 24th minute with a sumptuous free-kick, only for former Nacional striker Diego Vera to draw the sides level a minute before the interval. The two sides will meet again on Wednesday.
The Chilean Apertura could be heading for a similar fate, with Universidad de Chile and Union Espanola contesting a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the Chilean Apertura final.
Finally, Bolivar lifted the Bolivian Apertura for a record 16th time when they beat Real Mamore 2-1 in the final round. Brazilian Charles da Silva struck a dramatic injury-time winner to fend off the challenge of Real Potosi, who finished second, one point adrift.