World Leagues review
FIFA.com brings you an overview of this weekend’s action across the world’s biggest domestic leagues, including closely contested clásicos in Mexico and Chile, changes at the top of the table and setbacks for a host of big-name clubs.
Mexican Bicentenario: Tight at the top
Monterrey tightened their grip at the top of Group 2 with a 1-0 victory over Pumas, a win that took them on to 30 points and just one point behind Guadalajara in the overall standings. The result was also good for Cruz Azul, who leapfrogged Pumas into second spot in Group 3 with a 1-0 defeat of Queretaro, while Santos Laguna stayed first in the section on 24 points despite a 3-0 loss to Jaguares – their second reverse in a row.
Big game: They were made to battle every step of the way, but Guadalajara extended their unbeaten run at their Estadio Jalisco home this season. In El Clásico de Clásicos against fierce rivals America, despite the visitors holding sway early on, it was Las Chivas who grabbed the only goal of the game on 35 minutes via Omar Arellano. The three points ensured El Rebaño Sagrado’s involvement in the title-deciding end-of-season Liguilla, though Las Águilas are in danger of missing out.
Headline-grabbers: The 13th round of matches in the Bicentenario 2010 featured two goal-fests in the shape of Atlas’s 3-3 draw with Atlante, a result that helped neither team’s Liguilla hopes, and Toluca’s third victory in a row. Los Diablos Rojos overpowered Estudiantes 5-0 to move into second spot in Group 1 on 20 points, two clear of Queretaro.
Argentinian Clausura: Leaders hold firm
A solitary strike from Leonel Nunez on the half-hour mark was enough to keep Independiente in first place in the standings with 27 points, the narrow victory over neighbours Arsenal extending their unbeaten run to seven matches. The meeting between reigning Copa Libertadores champions Estudiantes and Argentinian Apertura 2009 winners Banfield ended 1-1, a result that took Juan Sebastian Veron’s El Pincha into fourth spot. There was no respite for Buenos Aires heavyweights River Plate and Boca Juniors, who both fell to yet another defeat.
Big game: Rosario Central sank Boca 2-1 to record their first win at La Bombonera in 20 years. Though Osvaldo Gaitan’s 61st-minute effort cancelled out the visitors’ first-half opener, scored by Adrian De Leon, poor judgement from Los Xeneizes custodian Javier Garcia four minutes from time enabled Milton Caraglio to head into an empty net for the winner. To add insult to injury, Boca talisman Juan Roman Riquelme was sent off just two minutes later. His team now lie third from bottom, with only Rosario and Atletico Tucuman below them.
Headline-grabber: In his first spell as a head coach, Godoy Cruz supremo Omar ‘El Turco’ Asad continues to help the modest outfit punch above their weight. Up against Velez Sarsfield, with whom Asad won the 1994 Copa Libertadores and Toyota Intercontinental Cup as a player, Godoy Cruz scored twice in the space of two second-half minutes through Rodrigo Salinas and Cesar Carranza. The 2-0 success kept the surprise packages in second place and within three points of Independiente.
Brazilian state championships: The heat is on
Across the leading state championships, this weekend’s action either marked the start of the knockout phase or helped indicate which teams will take part. In Rio de Janeiro, the line-up for the semi-finals of the Taca Rio is as follows: Flamengo-Vasco da Gama and Botafogo-Fluminense.
In Rio Grande do Sul, Gremio continued their 100 per cent record and will meet Pelotas in the quarter-finals of the competition’s second round. Rivals Internacional, under Uruguayan coach Jorge Fossati, beat Universidade 4-0 to set up a last-eight date with Novo Hamburgo. In the Campeonato Paulista, the return of Robinho helped Santos to a 3-1 win at Sao Caetano, a result which ensured O Peixe finished top of the standings and will play the second leg of their semi-final tie on home soil.
Big game: The quarter-finals are already underway in Minas Gerais and there were goals aplenty in the first leg of the regional clássico between Atletico Mineiro and America. The visitors flew into a 2-0 lead only for O Galo to storm back and take a 3-2 interval advantage via a 13-minute hat-trick from attacking midfielder Fabiano. America grabbed a second-half equaliser through Rodrigo, however, to leave the tie nicely balanced ahead of Wednesday’s return match.
Headline-grabber: The battle for the two remaining semi-final berths in the Paulista championship will go right to the wire. Top two Santos and Santo Andre have already qualified, though only three points separate the four teams still in the running - namely Gremio-SP (34), Sao Paulo (33), Corinthians (32) and Portuguesa (31) - going into Wednesday’s final matchday.
Chilean Apertura: Little sparkle in clásico
Though the duel of fierce rivals Universidad Catolica and Colo Colo began in fiery fashion thanks to the second-minute dismissal of the former's defender Ismael Fuentes, the match ended as a goalless damp squib. The result kept visitors El Cacique in second spot and moved Los Cruzados up to sixth. Cobreloa, for their part, extended their winless streak to six matches after a 2-1 reverse by Everton.
Big game: Already top of the scorers’ charts going into Universidad de Chile’s match with Union Espanola, Uruguayan striker Juan Manuel Olivera scored a brace to fire the leaders into a 3-1 lead, only for Union to drag themselves level thanks to Miguel Aceval’s second and Leonardo Monje’s 84th-minute strike. Yet up popped the irrepressible Olivera in the final minute of normal time to fire his third goal of the game and 11th of the season to clinch a 4-3 win which moved La U five points clear in first place.
Headline-grabber: Paraguayan coach Gustavo Benitez got off to a fine start in his first game at the Palestino helm, guiding his new charges to only their second victory of the campaign. The win, which came against O’Higgins courtesy of Gerardo Cortes’s fifth-minute goal, took Palestino on to eight points and out of last place, which is now occupied by San Luis.
In the American MLS, only two teams have taken maximum points from the opening two rounds. A double from Edson Buddle secured a 2-0 win for Los Angeles Galaxy over rivals Chivas USA and sent them top of the Western Conference. Heading the Eastern Conference standings and also on six points are New York Red Bulls, 1-0 winners away to Seattle Sounders thanks to a goal from Senegal’s Macoumba Kandji.
Stealing the show in the Japanese J.League was Shimizu S-Pulse’s Japan international Shinji Okazaki, scorer of both goals in his side’s 2-1 success at Yokohama F. Marinos. The victory took the division’s only unbeaten outfit into first place with 11 points from five games, one clear of a four-team chasing pack.
A brace from Dong-Gook Lee helped fire reigning Korea Republic K-League champions Jeonbuk Motors to a 3-2 win over struggling Incheon United and a tally of 11 points. After six matchdays they remain two points shy of leaders Ulsan Horangi, 1-0 winners over Gangwon, though the holders have played one game fewer. Also on 11 points are Gyeongnam, whose 3-1 victory over Pohang Steelers included a double from Brazilian forward Lucio, who is now clear at the top of the scorers’ charts on seven goals
Finally to Uzbekistan, where Bunyodkor could manage no better than a 1-1 draw with Shurtan, a result that enabled fellow Tashkent outfit Lokomotiv to join them at the top of the standings after their 1-0 away win over Qyzylqum. After three games of the season, Luiz Felipe Scolari’s team have seven points, with their goal against Shurtan coming via Brazilian forward Denilson, who starred for Pohang Steelers at last year’s FIFA Club World Cup.