Americas’ League review
Brasileirao: Flu end drought
Fluminense picked up their first Brasileirao title in the space of 26 years, overcoming Guarani to take the crown. Corinthians and Cruzeiro both went into the final round with hopes of glory, but the Tricolor Carioca pulled off a slim win to secure coach Muricy Ramalho his fourth national title after winning three with Sao Paulo between 2006 and 2008.
Big game: Fred, Emerson and Dario Conca led the side out at as favourites at their Engenhao stadium. But the pressure of the occasion soon got to them. The Fluzão struggled to find their rhythm and only worked a breakthrough in the 61st minute. Carlinhos picked out Emerson, who delicately tapped home with his left foot to send the fans into a rapture they’d been waiting for since 1984.
Headline-grabber: Unlike rivals Fluminense, Corinthians failed to overcome a relegated rival: Goias. Their 1-1 draw turned the Timao’s title ambitions to dust and saw them finish third behind Cruzeiro, who edged Palmeiras 2-1. Gremio’s 3-0 win against Botafogo was enough for a fourth-place finish that could lead them to the Copa Libertadores, provided Goias lose the final of the Copa Sudamericana to Independiente. Atletico Goianiense grabbed a crucial point in a 0-0 draw at Vitoria’s Barradao stadium, enough to see them remain in the top flight while Vitoria tumble ignominiously out.
Mexico: Suazo spurs Monterrey fight-back
With a one-goal deficit heading into the second leg of the Mexican Apertura final, Monterrey never looked nervous and were far short of overawed, beating Santos Laguna 3-0 to claim the title. Humberto Suazo was the hero of the day and no one embraced the Chilean striker with more force than a relieved Duilio Davino, whose unfortunate own goal last week put Monterrey behind the eight ball.
Headline grabbers: Monterrey took full advantage of the home-field edge at their Estadio Tecnologico and the stout Suazo was the man of the hour for the Rayados, the team’s top scorer and inspirational leader, grabbing a goal in each half to secure a second straight Apertura gong for the side from Nuevo Leon.
Argentina: Velez keep on Estudiantes’ heels
Estudiantes are looking over their shoulders with two rounds to go in the Argentine Apertura as Velez Sarsfield’s charge towards to the summit continues unabated. Although the leaders managed to beat Argentinos Juniors on Saturday, Velez kept the gap at two slim points by hammering Godoy Cruz on the road a day later.
Big game: Velez are the form team of the moment and they proved their ascent no fluke with a 4-0 mauling of formidable Godoy Cruz on the road. Rather than sit back and look for the occasional counter-attack, a reliable formula away from home, the men from Western Buenos Aires threw everything forward, Santiago Silva scoring a pair of goals in the one-sided affair.
Headline-grabber: The Argentine race is coming right down to the wire and will be decided in the next week. Estudiantes face fading giants River Plate on Wednesday while Velez take on second-bottom Huracan. The final game for both sides will come on 12 December with Estudiantes playing third-place Arsenal and Velez meeting Racing Club, just a point behind in fourth.
Uruguay: Defensor soar
Defensor Sporting pulled off a stirring comeback to claim the Uruguayan Apertura title, winning out 3-1 after going down 1-0 to Tacuarembo. The win sees the Montevideo side finish one point ahead of giants Nacional and strivers Bella Vista, who both won to ensure a nail-biter of a final round in which no fewer than five teams could have been crowned.
Big game: The champions have been banging in the goals this term. And after going down early in their weekend encounter, they needed to dig deep once again and find their attacking form. Top scorer Rodrigo Mora led the way, and strikes followed from Diego de Souza and David Teixera to put the trophy in Defensor’s hands.
Headline-grabber: Defensor’s Apertura crown is their fourth title since Uruguay adopted the short season format. Their 52 goals in 15 outings made them the best attacking outfit in the land, scoring an average of nearly 3.5 goals per game.
Libertad of Asuncion picked up their 15th Paraguayan national title with a 5-0 drubbing of 3 de Febrero to end of the chase of Cerro Porteno, who went into the final round of action just one point behind the eventual champions. Pablo Velazquez was the hero for Libertad on the final day of action, picking up a pair of goals and putting in a powerful performance.
Universidad Catolica sealed their tenth Chilean title, a heavy 5-0 win over Everton CD, seeing them finish ahead of perennial favourites Colo Colo in the final standings. San Martin extended their lead at the top of the Peruvian top flight after securing a 1-1 draw with Alianza Lima, while nearest competitors Jose Galvez lost 2-0 to Sporting Cristal.
In Colombia, where the league has reached the play-off stage, Once Caldas edged out Nacional 3-2 to take control of Group B, while Santa Fe and Tolima remain first and second Group A despite both losing at the weekend.
Leaders Deportivo Tachira kept up their fine form in Venezuela with a 2-0 win over Real Esppor club, who sit two points behind in second spot. El Salvador are one step closer to crowning a champion, with Firpo beating Alianza in their semi-final play-off and booking a place in the final against Metapan.