World Leagues review
An eventful opening round unfolded in South Africa as the pacesetters suffered in Argentina, Brazil and the USA. With intriguing matches in Ecuador, Mexico, Australia, Japan and Iran, FIFA.com reflects on the latest developments outside Europe.
Major League Soccer: Both leaders stumble
Western Conference leaders Los Angeles Galaxy lost 2-0 to Kansas City Wizards, with David Arnaud and Jimmy Conrad getting the goals, though Real Salt Lake failed to fully capitalise by being held 0-0 at Toronto FC. In the Eastern Conference, Columbus Crew saw their advantage chopped to four points after also being held to a goalless draw by FC Dallas.
Big game: In a crucial battle in the play-off race, Seattle Sounders defeated Chicago Fire 2-1, with prolific striker Fredy Montero hitting the winner in stoppage time.
Headline-grabber: Marquee signing Thierry Henry finally got on the scoresheet in his sixth MLS outing as New York Red Bulls won 2-0 at home to San Jose Earthquakes.
Argentinian Clausura: All change at the top
Velez Sarsfield lost their grip at the summit as they suffered a 2-1 defeat at Buenos Aires rivals Boca Juniors at the Bombonera. The loss of the three points and a 100 per cent record was compounded by River Plate edging into first place thanks to a hard-fought point in a goalless draw at Argentinos Juniors.
Big game: Unfashionable Arsenal snuck into second ahead of Velez on goal difference with a 2-1 win at Independiente, with the latter whistled off by their own supporters after suffering their second straight defeat.
Headline-grabber: Goalkeeper Enrique Bologna was instrumental in earning Banfield a share of the points in the derby against Lanus by making a number of blocks as the Apertura champions maintained their unbeaten record.
Brasileirao: Corinthians peg back Fluminense
Long-term leaders Fluminense saw their lead shorn to just three points after being held 2-2 by relegation-haunted Sao Paulo. Goals from Iarley and Paulinho ensured that Corinthians took full advantage of the slip-up with a 2-1 victory over Vitoria. Santos moved third after a late rally saw O Peixe defeat Goias 2-0, Ze Eduardo and Alan Patrick the scorers.
Big game: Botafogo saw their five-match winning streak come to end against Internacional, with the Copa Libertadores winners elevated to fourth with a deserved 1-0 win.
Headline-grabber: Sao Paulo goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni took his career goal tally to 90 when he scored a first-half free-kick in the draw against Fluminense.
Mexican Apertura: Battle for supremacy intensifying
Three second-half goals helped Santos Laguna retain their lead with a 3-1 win over Atlas. They have a three-point margin in Group 1 over Monterrey, who were held to a 1-1 draw by lowly Jaguares, with the former needing an equaliser from Chilean sharpshooter Humberto Suazo to earn a share of the spoils.
Big game: Cruz Azul remain second overall as the Group 3 leaders prevailed 3-2 over visiting Tigres, despite the home side losing Jorge Torres to a late red card.
Headline-grabber: Puebla recovered from a 4-1 hammering at the hands of Pumas a week ago to beat Pachuca 3-1 and move fourth in the overall standings, with the help of two goals in the final five minutes.
South African Premiership: Champions suffer early blow
SuperSport United, chasing a fourth straight title, suffered a major setback on the opening day when they lost 3-0 at Johannesburg's Wits University, who finished the weekend in pole position. Meanwhile, Amazulu beat neighbours Maritzburg United 3-2 in the KwaZulu-Natal derby at the new Durban Stadium.
Big game: New Mamelodi Sundowns signing Nyasha Mushekwi made a grand entrance to South African football, the Zimbabwean hitting both goals in a 2-0 reverse of Moroka Swallows.
Headline-grabber: Giants Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates managed to kick-start their respective campaigns with solid victories. The Pirates dispatched newly-promoted Vasco da Gama with a 2-1 victory, while the Chiefs beat Golden Arrows 2-0 at their new home, Rand Stadium.
The big guns continue to struggle in the Australian A-League with champions Sydney FC and much-hyped new boys Melbourne Heart still winless after four rounds. Sydney were held 1-1 by local rivals Central Coast Mariners, while the Heart saw Robbie Fowler convert an injury-time penalty as frontrunners Perth Glory secured a 2-2 draw. Melbourne Victory collected their first win of the campaign with a 1-0 win at Jason Culina’s Gold Coast United.
Mu Kanasaki's first-half strike helped Nagoya Grampus to a hard-fought 1-0 win over Kyoto Sanga, helping maintain a five-point advantage at the top at the top of the J.League. Shimizu S-Pulse scored the result of the weekend with a goal in each half enough to beat Kawasaki Frontale and maintain an equal share of second. The match of the round saw Masashi Motoyama rescue a 1-1 draw for champions Kashima Antlers at Urawa Reds.
AFC Champions League quarter-finalists Zob Ahan overcame Saba Battery 2-1 to reclaim the Iranian Pro League lead on goal difference after seven rounds. Mansour Ebrahimzadeh’s charges are level on 16 points with Persepolis, but ahead due to a superior goal difference. The Tehran giants were held 1-1 by Foolad with Mohammad Nouri’s 36th-minute opener for the Reds cancelled out by Omid Khouraj in first-half injury-time.
Leaders Liga de Quito were held 1-1 by first stage winners Emelec in the Ecuadorian Serie A. Second-placed Deportivo Cuenca failed to take advantage, losing 2-0 at in-form Manta, and are now three points off the pace.