World Leagues review
Estudiantes maintained their advantage in Argentina, Fluminense moved back in front in Brazil, and Shandong Luneng had to postpone their championship celebrations in China. FIFA.com fills in the details on those stories and more in its latest look at the major leagues outside Europe.
Brasileirao: Three in the frame
A first-half Obina hat-trick catapulted Atletico Mineiro to a stunning 4-3 win at Cruzeiro and helped unseat their local rivals from the top of table. Replacing them there are erstwhile leaders Fluminense, who slipped back into the driving seat thanks to a 2-2 draw at Atletico PR, Dario Conca securing a priceless point for the visitors with a penalty three minutes from time. Flu are now ahead of A Raposa on goal difference.
High stakes: The other team still in the title race with three games to go are Corinthians, who beat Palmeiras 1-0 in the big Sao Paulo derby to move within a point of the leading twosome.
Headline grabber: The weekend’s other two derbies in Brazil both ended all square, with Gremio and Internacional sharing four goals in a gripping encounter in Porto Alegre, and Rio rivals Vasco da Gama and Flamengo drawing 1-1 in a game that will not live so long in the memory.
Mexican Apertura: Late lapse for Cruz
Having already made sure of top spot in Group 3, Cruz Azul eased off the accelerator at Monarcas Morelia, shipping a late equaliser to allow Monterrey, 2-1 victors at Santos Laguna, to pull level on points with them. Despite that defeat, Santos remain third in the overall standings.
High stakes: The big game between America and Guadalajara ended in a 0-0 draw that enabled Las Águilas to cling on to the eighth and final championship play-off slot. Two points behind them, Chivas are still in with a chance of making the eight-team finale.
Headline grabber: San Luis earned a 2-0 win at Necaxa to stay out front in Group 2, two points clear of title holders Toluca, who disposed of Puebla 2-1 at home.
Argentinian Apertura: Big game fails to deliver
The much-awaited meeting between frontrunners Estudiantes and Velez Sarsfield in second ended in a tame 0-0 draw, keeping El Pincharrata three points clear of their closest challengers and four of third-placed who went down 3-1 at home to Godoy Cruz 3-1. That win momentarily took El Tomba up to fourth, only for Newell’s Old Boys to replace them courtesy of a 1-0 defeat of Gimnasia, moving them to within six points of the leaders.
High stakes: Huracan ended a run of ten years without a win over local foes San Lorenzo at the Parque Patricios with a handsome 3-0 victory. There were two other derbies on the card, with River Plate and Racing Club sharing the spoils in a 1-1 draw, and Independiente and Boca Juniors playing out a goalless stalemate.
Headline grabber: Giovanni Moreno has made a big impact since joining Racing earlier this year. The Colombian’s first-half strike at River took his tally for the season to five.
Chinese Super League: Anti-climax for Shandong
Aiming to seal their third Super League title in front of their own fans on Saturday, Shandong Luneng were made to wait when they were held to a surprise 1-1 draw by Qingdao Jonoon. Three-time runners-up Shanghai Shenhua maintained their faint hopes of overhauling them when they downed Shaanxi Chanba 3-2 on Sunday, trimming the Jinan club’s lead to nine points with just three games remaining.
High stakes: The champagne corks would have been popping in Jinan had Shenhua’s Colombian forward Duvier Riascos not converted a 90th-minute penalty to end Shaanxi’s resistance. The season’s leading marksman with 18 goals, Riascos is now three clear of the rest of the field.
Headline grabber: Tianjin Teda and Dalian Shide both won and are well placed to take the two remaining AFC Champions League qualifying places, although with only seven points separating third from ninth they cannot afford to be complacent.
In Major League Soccer New York Red Bulls clinched the Eastern Conference title after downing New England Revolution 2-0, while David Beckham got on the scoresheet for Los Angeles Galaxy as they saw off FC Dallas 2-1 to take the Western title. The highest point-scorers in the regular season, the Galaxy will now take on Seattle Sounders in the play-offs, with New York Red Bulls locking horns with San Jose Earthquakes, Columbus Crew taking on Colorado Rapids, and Real Salt Lake facing Dallas.
In Tunisia’s Ligue 1, Club Africain beat Etoile Sportive du Sahel 2-0 to stymie their hopes of closing the three-point gap on leaders Esperance, who capped the perfect weekend by reaching the final of the CAF Champions League. With seven games gone only five points separate the top six, although Esperance do have a game in hand.
Over in the Algerian Championnat National, meanwhile, MC Saida won 2-1 at WA Tlemcen to stay top. ASO Chlef, JSM Bejaia and last season’s runners-up ES Setif all won to keep the pressure on, while defending champions MC Alger’s miserable season continued when they lost to CR Belouizdad to drop to 13th.