World Leagues review
Three leagues reached their finales in Latin America over the weekend, with trophies changing hands in Argentina, Mexico and Peru. Elsewhere, there is still plenty of drama left in South Africa and Australia, as FIFA.com reveals in its latest weekly round-up of events in the major leagues outside Europe.
Argentinian Apertura: History in the making for Banfield
Fans were clutching radios to their ears on a nerve-wracking final day in Argentina as title contenders Banfield and Newell’s Old Boys battled it out for the spoils. In the end, neither side won, which perfectly suited El Taladro, 2-0 losers to Boca Juniors at La Bombonera. Two points behind Banfield at the start of the day, Newell’s failed to capitalise at home to San Lorenzo, leaving Julio Falcioni’s side to celebrate their first league triumph in over 100 years of trying.
Big game: Watching their heroes slide to defeat at Boca, Banfield fans nervously turned their attentions to Rosario, where the chasing Newell’s were trying to get the better of San Lorenzo. Fabian Bordagaray’s brace sank La Lepra’s hopes, however, triggering joyous celebrations among the Taladro contingent.
Headline grabbers: Argentina’s big five (Boca Juniors, River Plate, San Lorenzo, Independiente and Racing) will all be absent from the 2010 Copa Libertadores, leaving defending continental champions Estudiantes, 2009 Clausura winners Velez Sarsfield, Banfield, Colon, Lanus and Newell’s Old Boys to fly the Albiceleste flag in Latin America’s biggest club competition.
Australian A-League: As you were
A second-half goal blitz propelled Melbourne Victory to a comfortable 3-0 win at Central Coast Mariners and kept them three points clear at the top. On a day of tight scorelines elsewhere, Adelaide United clinched their first win in five with a 1-0 triumph at fellow strugglers Brisbane Roar. The two bottom clubs are now tied on 20 points.
Big game: Newcastle Jets zoomed up to fourth place after outgunning Gold Coast United 3-2 at home. Jobe Wheelhouse, Sean Rooney and Sasho Petrovsky were on target for the Jets, while Shane Smeltz replied with a double that increases his lead in the scoring charts.
Headline grabber: Wellington Phoenix’s hopes of setting a new A-League high of 15 games unbeaten were undone by fellow record holders Sydney. Steve Corica’s first-half penalty proved the difference between the sides at the FMG Stadium.
ABSA Premiership: No stopping super Supersport
Commanding 3-0 winners over last-placed Jomo Cosmos, Supersport United are nine points clear of the field in South Africa, with Mamelodi Sundowns, Santos, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates all tied on 35 points in second.
Big game: Ajax Cape Town had a day to forget when they travelled to Maritzburg United. Musa Nyatama struck twice in a minute to put the hosts in charge. Lance Davids pulled one back late on but it was not enough to stop Ajax slipping to sixth.
Headline grabber: Orlin Powell was the hero of the hour for Santos, scoring a last-minute equaliser against Golden Arrows to keep his side’s lingering title hopes alive.
It was an emotional occasion for De Nigris, who dedicated the title to his late brother Antonio, the victim of a heart attack in Greece last month. “This is a very joyous moment and a very difficult one too,” he said after the final whistle. “My brother is my angel. He was with me in this game. I could feel his spirit out on the pitch and that’s reflected in the scoreline. I showed all the character he left me with.”
It was also championship play-off day in Peru, where Universitario followed up their 1-0 defeat of old rivals Alianza Lima in the first leg with an identical result in the second. Veteran midfielder Nolberto Solano sparked jubilant scenes at the Estadio Monumental in Lima when he converted a penalty to end Universitario’s nine-year title drought.
USM Annaba slid to a 1-0 reverse at USM El Harrach to allow MC Alger to replace them at the top in Algeria courtesy of a 4-2 win over crisis-stricken local adversaries CR Belouizdad. In the day’s other derby USM Alger won 2-1 at NA Hussein Dey.
Sepahan maintained their four-point lead in Iran with a 3-2 victory away to Mes. Mohsen Bengar put the visitors ahead only for Edinho to equalise before half-time. Further goals from Emad Mohammed and Ibrahima Toure put Sepahan firmly in command, though Mehdi Rajebzadeh did manage to pull one back for the hosts.
Second-placed Zob Ahan stayed in touch thanks to Mohamadreza Khalatbari’s solitary goal against Teraktor.