World Leagues review
A massive weekend of global domestic action saw the Campeonato Brasileiro kick off, while there was high drama in the penultimate round of action in Argentina and Morocco. Elsewhere, with the season’s climax drawing nearer in Mexico, silverware was claimed in India and Honduras. Join FIFA.com as we also examine the latest developments in USA, Korea Republic, Japan and China.
Argentinian Clausura: Argentinos edge closer to history
A day of drama in the penultimate round saw incumbent leaders Estudiantes throw away the opportunity to maintain their lead in the Clausura. A scoreless draw against Rosario Central, in a match also marked by the dismissal of Juan Sebastian Veron on the half-hour mark, allowed Argentinos Juniors to take a one-point lead at the summit. Incredibly, Juniors were down 3-1 with 23 minutes to play only to sneak home 4-3 with last-minute goals from Juan Sabia and Matias Caruzzo to put themselves in prime position to end their 25-year title drought next weekend.
Big game: There was yet more misery for Buenos Aires giants Boca Juniors as they slipped to a 2-1 defeat at home against Huracan - their eighth defeat of the Clausura campaign.
Headline-grabber: Velez Sarsfield’s Uruguayan striker Hernan Lopez provided the star turn in the goalscoring stakes by bagging all four goals as his side trounced Chacarita Juniors 4-1.
Campeonato Brasileiro: Tight opening to national season
The Maracana saw reigning champions Flamengo host Sao Paulo but a low-key affair ended in a 1-1 stalemate, with both sides seemingly mindful of upcoming midweek Copa Libertadores commitments. Washington scored for the home team just before half-time, while Denis Marques did likewise just after the break for a Flamengo side who were without leading scorers Vagner Love and Adriano. Kleber, meanwhile, was on target twice for Cruzeiro, who triumphed 2-1 over fellow title aspirants Internacional, with Taison grabbing their only goal.
Big game: Rio de Janeiro state champions Botafogo and Sao Paulo counterparts Santos shared the spoils in a thrilling 3-3 draw. Teenage prodigy Neymar opened the scoring for Santos but a double from Antonio Carlos plus a late equaliser from German Herrera ensured Botafogo earned a share of the points.
Headline-grabber: Ronaldo scored a late winner from the penalty spot as the FIFA World Cup's all-time leading goalscorer and his Corinthians side kicked off their Brasileiro campaign with a 2-1 victory over a nine-man Atletico Paranaense.
Mexican Bicentenario: Top-four confirmed
Santos will meet Morelia for a berth in the Bicentenario final despite losing their quarter-final second leg 1-0 against Pumas, with Los Guerreros triumphing 2-1 on aggregate. Toluca also booked their passage to the last four with goals in either half for a 2-0 win against Mexico City’s Club America and a 4-2 aggregate scoreline.
Big game: Last year’s beaten finalists Pachuca won their way through to a semi-final meeting with Toluca. The recently-crowned CONCACAF champions scored a 2-1 second-leg win against Monterrey for a 3-1 aggregate victory.
Headline-grabber: Unheralded Monarcas striker Elias Hernandez stepped out of the shadow of his famous team-mate Jared Borgetti to score the only goal of the game to lift his side to a side to a 5-2 aggregate win against Guadalajara.
American Major League Soccer: Leaders endure contrasting fates
Los Angeles Galaxy maintained their impressive start to the season by crushing Seattle Sounders 4-0 to consolidate their lead in the Western Conference. With seven wins from eight matches, Landon Donovan and Co are nine points clear of second-placed Houston Dynamo, who eked out a 2-0 win at Chivas USA.
Big game: San Jose Earthquakes produced the biggest surprise of the round by firing four unanswered goals past in-form Eastern Conference leaders New York Red Bulls. Ryan Johnson opened the scoring for the hosts on the stroke of half-time before Joey Gjertsen doubled the advantage after the restart ahead of late strikes from Chris Wondolowski and Bobby Burling.
Headline-grabber: Striker Dwayne De Rosario may have claimed most of Toronto FC's plaudits this season with a six-goal haul, but forward Chad Barrett stole the show over the weekend netting a second-half brace within three minutes to seal a 4-1 home win over Chicago Fire, a result which lifted the Canadians into third in the Eastern Conference.
Korean K-League: Tigers on top
Ulsan Horangi rounded off the first half of the season before a break for the FIFA World Cup by leapfrogging into pole position with a 2-0 win at struggling Suwon Bluewings. Jeju United had briefly seized pole position in the standings when they beat Pohang Steelers 5-2 earlier on Saturday, gaining revenge for a record 8-1 defeat at home against the Asian champions last season.
Big game: Brazilian midfielder Fabricio struck twice and set up another as Seongnam Chunma defeated Chunnam Dragons 4-0 at home, in an ideal warm-up for their midweek AFC Champions League encounter with Gamba Osaka.
Headline-grabber: Incheon United midfielder Lee Se-Joo finally broke his goalscoring duck in what was his 29th appearance over the course of five seasons, scoring a late winner against title favourites FC Seoul with his first touch of the game.
Olimpia once again came up trumps in the Honduran Clausura despite going down 1-0 in the second leg of the final. The Tegucigalpa giants saw off city rivals Motagua to add yet more silverware to their trophy cabinet with a 3-2 aggregate victory.
Dempo SC claimed their fourth Indian I-League title in five years after edging past Shillong Lajong 1-0 at the Nehru Stadium. A first-half goal from Anthony Pereira's was the difference as Dempo maintained a large gap on Mahindra United, Churchill Brothers and Pune FC, who are all battling for second.
Japanese J.League leaders Shimizu S-Pulse slipped to their first loss of the season with a 2-0 defeat against Albirex Niigata. A double from Australia striker Josh Kennedy, including a last-gasp winner, saw Nagoya Grampus move within two points of the leaders as they won 2-1 against Vegalta Sendai.
In the Chinese Super League, Shandong Luneng opted to sacrifice their leading position by accepting Beijing Guoan's request to postpone their meeting until August. The decision benefited Shanghai Shenhua, who replaced Shandong at the top despite being held to a 2-2 home draw by newly-promoted Liaoning Hunyong. Shenzhen Ruby, however, failed to capitalise on the postponement and remain in the third place after losing 3-2 to hosts Qingdao Jonoon.
WAC Casablanca may have blown their chance to claim the Moroccan Botola by playing out a scoreless draw at El Jadida in the penultimate round of matches. City rivals Raja Casablanca took full advantage by winning 3-2 at home over OC Safi to take a one-point lead at the top.