World Leagues review
The Argentina Clausura campaign has kicked-off in typical all-action style, while there were goals and tributes on an emotional weekend in Mexico. It was derby time in Brazil and New Zealand while FIFA.com concludes its review of the action outside Europe with a look at Qatar, Malaysia and Morocco.
Argentinian Clausura: Two big names start brightly
Copa Libertadores champions Estudiantes and traditional heavyweights Racing have a slim lead at the top of Argentinian Clausura after the much-anticipated opening round of the campaign. Mauro Boselli scored a second-half brace as Estudiantes overpowered Arsenal 3-0, while Racing enjoyed the same dominant scoreline at home against Rosario Central. Also on three points after the opening round are Chacarita Juniors, Lanus, Banfield, Godoy Cruz and San Lorenzo. Apertura winners Banfield started impressively with a 1-0 at River Plate thanks to a 74th minute winner from Sebastian Fernandez.
Big game: An injury-time equaliser from Ismael Sosa ensured Argentinos Juniors drew 2-2 with Boca Juniors who lost coach Alfio Basile just days prior to the season commencing. Martin Palermo and Juan Roman Riquelme had twice given Boca the lead.
Headline-grabber: Gonzalo Castillejos scored a double as Lanus sensationally came from two goals down with a quarter of an hour remaining against Huracan to triumph 3-2 courtesy of an injury-time winner.
Brazilian State Championships: Big names strike
In the Sao Paulo state championship, Corinthians scored their first victory against Palmeiras in three years with the 1-0 result putting O Timão atop the standings. With the injured Ronaldo watching from the stands, Corinthians also had to largely make do without newly-signed Roberto Carlos who was dismissed in the early stages of the contest. Elsewhere in other Sao Paulo state matches Botafogo beat Portuguesa 2-1, while Sao Paulo drew 2-2 with Sertaozinho.
Big game: Adriano scored a hat-trick to help Flamengo to a drama-charged 5-3 win over rivals Fluminense at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, while newly-signed Wagner Love was also on the scoresheet as O Mengão claimed local bragging rights.
Headline-grabbber: Teenage sensation Neymar proved the star turn as Santos got the better of Oeste. The 17-year-old laid on the first for Andre and then capped a sparkling performance with an injury-time sealer.
Mexican Clausura: Pacesetters maintain status
Guadalajara were forced to record a sensational comeback against Estudiantes Tecos in order to maintain their status as the only team with a 100 per cent record after three rounds. In-form striker Javier Hernandez grabbed a double with his side scoring three in the last 12 minutes as the Group 1 leaders won the Western derby. Continental champions Atlante were humiliated 5-1 by Pachuca who have maintained their position atop Group 2.
Big game: All eyes were on the Azteca as America took to the field for the first time since Paraguay striker Salvador Cabanas was seriously injured in a shooting incident earlier in the week. Tributes flowed before and during the match against Indios Juarez with America striker Enrique Esqueda ensuring his team came out on top with the lone goal scored five minutes before the break.
Headline-grabber: Champions Monterrey beat Cruz Azul 2-0 in a repeat of last December’s Apertura with Argentine midfielder Neri Cardozo and Abraham Carreno scored the goals during the last half hour.
New Zealand Football Championship: Giants battle to stalemate
The NZFC title race remains wide-open after the two city rivals – Auckland City and Waitakere United, battled out a 1-1 draw. Auckland, still revelling in the afterglow of their FIFA Club World Cup campaign late last year, scored first through Chad Coombes just after the interval only for Tim Myers to level midway though the half. The draw leaves Auckland ahead on goal difference but with two matches in hand.
Big game: Otago United consolidated third place with an important 3-1 comeback win against nearest challengers Team Wellington. A double from Ben Light pushed the home team four points clear of their rivals.
Headline-grabber: Despite his YoungHeart Manawatu side suffering a 3-2 home loss against fellow strugglers Waikato, prolific Vanuatu national team striker Seule Soromon scored another goal to stay of the top of the goalscoring charts, a position he has maintained since the opening day of the campaign.
Al Sadd maintained their slim lead at the top of the Qatari Stars League with a comprehensive 5-1 overpowering of Al Shamal, while reigning champions Al Gharrafa could only edge a 1-0 victory at struggling Al Siliya. The two frontrunners are split by goal difference while nearest challengers Al Aarabi are a further nine points off the pace.
In the Malaysian Super League Selangor saw their lead at the top cut to just two points after drawing 1-1 away at Perlis. Second-placed Terengganu moved in on the leaders with a 2-0 home triumph against Kuala Lumpur.
Table-topping DH El Jadida also saw their lead cut in the Moroccan Botola after being held scoreless at home by OC Khouribga. WAC Casablanca exacted full advantage and moved within one point of the leaders with a 3-1 victory at lowly JS Massira.