World Leagues review
The weekend’s results ensured exciting last-day denouements in two of the world’s major leagues, with two teams still in contention going into the final round of games in Japan and no fewer than four sides left in the hunt in Brazil. In Mexico, meanwhile, the 2009 Apertura quarter-final ties reached their conclusion, and Argentina's two giants both dropped out of the running for Copa Libertadores places. FIFA.com provides its weekly round-up of all the news from the biggest leagues outside Europe.
Argentinian Apertura: Bad day for Banfield
Leaders Banfield went down to their first home loss of the season at the hands of relegation-threatened Racing Club, who had won just two of their 15 games previously. El Taladro’s 2-1 reverse gives Newell’s the chance to take over at the top tonight, when they visit third-placed Colon.
Big game: San Lorenzo overpowered Boca Juniors 3-0 in the weekend’s derby. Diego Simeone’s side are now just one point adrift of the Copa Libertadores qualification places with three games still to go.
Headline grabber: That defeat for Alfio Basile’s Boca spelt the end of their hopes of qualifying for next year’s Copa Libertadores, a fate also suffered by city rivals River Plate, whose hopes were ended by a 1-1 draw with Estudiantes. This is the first time since 1992 that the big Buenos Aires duo have both missed out on places in South America’s premier club competition. The three teams already through are El Pincha, Velez Sarsfield and Colon.
Brasileirao: Photo finish in store
Flamengo, Internacional, Palmeiras and Sao Paulo will all go into the final day in Brazil with hopes of claiming the championship. Only two points separate the illustrious quartet, though Flamengo put themselves in the driving seat with a 2-0 win at Corinthians. Victory over Gremio at the Maracana will give them the crown.
Big game: Defending champions Sao Paulo started the day out front but went down 4-2 at Goias to leave their hopes of bagging a fourth consecutive title hanging in the balance.
Headline grabber: While it is tight at the top, the situation looks even more congested down at the bottom, where six clubs - Vitoria, Atletico Paranaense, Fluminense, Coritiba, Botafogo and Santo Andre - will start the final day with the threat of relegation hanging over them. And when the dust finally settles, two of them will accompany the already doomed duo of Nautico and Sport into the second division.
Mexican Apertura: Four fall by the wayside
The play-off semi-final line-up was decided at the weekend, with Toluca now facing Monterrey and Cruz Azul taking on Monarcas Morelia. Hector Mancilla’s lone goal gave Toluca the narrowest of wins over San Luis and levelled their quarter-final tie on aggregate. It was Los Escarlatas who advanced, however, thanks to their higher league placing in the regular season. Morelia fought back from a 2-1 deficit in their first leg against Santos, a 3-0 victory giving them a comfortable aggregate win.
Big game: Cruz Azul and Puebla played out the highest-scoring tie of the four, sharing 13 goals in all. The first meeting between the sides was a pulsating 4-4 draw and the second lived up to all expectations as La Máquina Cementera edged a five-goal thriller to advance to the last four.
Headline grabber: Having made their return to the play-offs after a two-year absence, America’s title hopes were dashed as Monterrey held them to a 1-1 draw at the Estadio Azteca to run out 2-1 winners over the two legs.
Gamba Osaka’s Japanese J-League title bid disintegrated with a 5-1 defeat at championship leaders and holders Kashima Antlers, who maintained their two-point advantage over Kawasaki Frontale, 1-0 winners over Albirex Niigata. All will be decided next weekend, when Kashima travel to Urawa Red Diamonds and Kawasaki visit Kashiwa Reysol.
Colo-Colo and Universidad Catolica both won their first legs of the Chilean Clausura play-off semi-finals. El Cacique edged to a 1-0 win at home to La Serena, while Catolica all but booked their place in the championship decider with a comprehensive 3-0 win at Santiago Morning.
Sepahan tightened their grip on first place in the Iran Pro League with a 2-1 home victory over Persepolis, who drop to seventh. Second-placed Zob-Ahan kept the gap to a single point with a 1-0 win at Malavan.
In the Ecuadorian Championship final, Deportivo Cuenca and Deportivo Quito played out a 1-1 draw in the first leg, with the return match taking place in the capital next Saturday. Finally, in Peru, Alianza Lima beat Jose Galvez 1-0 set up a play-off final against Universitario.