Americas Leagues review
FIFA.com’s latest review from the Americas takes in a number of Brazil’s state championships, where the action has reached a decisive phase, and a host of the continent’s other main leagues, where the battles for dominance has only just begun.
Brazilian state championships: O Fenômeno bids farewell
There was emotion and stunning goals aplenty in the Paulista clássico between Corinthians and Santos at the Estadio Pacaembu. Having now hung up his boots, lethal goalgetter Ronaldo thanked O Timão’s fans for their support before watching his former team-mates sink O Peixe 3-1. Santos’ reverse was a boon for state rivals Palmeiras, who retained top spot in the Paulista championship despite a goalless draw with Mogi Mirim.
Big game: Flamengo reached the final of the Guanabara Cup, the first stage of the Carioca state championship, after edging out Botafogo in the last four. With Ronaldinho struggling to make an impression, it fell to team-mate Ronaldo Angelim to strike first for Os Rubro-negros, only for Bota’s wily Uruguayan Sebastian Abreu to level the scores. After neither side was able to add to their tally, the tie went to penalties, where heroics from keeper Felipe booked Fla’s place in the final against Boavista, who had shocked reigning Brazilian champions Fluminense in their semi-final.
Headline-grabbers: Unbeaten Coritiba clinched the first phase of the Paranaense state championship after Sunday’s 4-2 win over Atletico-PR, their eighth victory from ten games.
Mexican Apertura: Toluca toppled
After Toluca’s reverse against Necaxa, Pumas UNAM’s 1-0 victory over San Luis means they now boast the only unbeaten record in the 2011 Apertura and lead the overall standings with 15 points. Tigres, who had topped the overall table going into Matchday 7, were held to a goalless draw by champions Monterrey in the northern clásico.
Big game: Two goals to the good after 58 minutes at home against Necaxa, Toluca were left stunned by Los Rayos’ 3-2 comeback success – secured via an Ismael Iniguez strike and a double from Christian Suarez.
Headline-grabbers: Santos Laguna, beaten 2-0 at their Nuevo Estadio Corona home by Queretaro, sacked their coach Ruben Omar Romano following the Argentinian’s reaction to fan dissent during and after Saturday’s game. “His behaviour went against the values that the club stands for and promotes, which is why the decision was taken to end our working relationship with immediate effect,” said a statement on the club’s website.
Argentinian Clausura: First wins for River and Boca
Thrashed 5-0 in the Copa Libertadores by Brazil’s Cruzeiro in midweek, Estudiantes La Plata regained some pride by moving joint-top of the Clausura 2011 alongside Olimpo. El Pincha beat Quilmes 1-0 thanks to Gabriel Mercado’s solitary strike, taking their points tally to six from two games. Buenos Aires’ giants Boca Juniors, beaten in their opening match of the campaign, were grateful to an inspired display from keeper Javier Hernan Garcia in their 1-0 win at Racing Club.
Big game: As they continue to battle against the spectre of relegation, decided on points average over the last three years, River Plate beat fellow strugglers Huracan 2-0 via second-half strikes from Eric Lamela and Paulo Ferrari.
Headline-grabbers: Matchday 2 was particularly fruitful for visiting sides, with four of eight matches won by the away team. Particularly noteworthy were All Boys 2-1 win at Velez Sarsfield and Olimpo’s 3-1 triumph over Gimnasia La Plata.
Traditional forces Colo Colo remain rooted to the foot of the Chilean Apertura with just one point from four games, following this weekend’s 2-0 defeat by Union San Felipe, who are now in third. Leaders Universidad de Chile held firm to sink mid-table Union Espanola 2-1 and take their tally to ten points, one clear of closest chasers Universidad Catolica, 2-1 winners against Huachipato on Saturday.
Making light of their status as relegation contenders, decided by total points tallies over the past two national championships, Tacuarembo currently lead the Uruguayan Clausura after three matchdays. Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Montevideo Wanderers extended their 100 per cent start, a remarkable feat after collecting just five points in the entire Apertura 2010. Defensor Sporting dropped to fourth after their 2-1 reverse against Cerro, while Penarol and Fenix shared a 1-1 draw which put both teams level in ninth spot.
Catching the eye over in Paraguay was Colombian Vladimir Marin, scorer of a hat-trick in Olimpia’s 5-0 rout of Sportivo Luqueno. The win takes them to a maximum 15 points from five games, five clear of nearest pursuers Nacional.
Another Colombian, Andres Escobar, also came to the fore this weekend in the Venezuelan Clausura. Escobar grabbed Atletico El Vigia’s 79th-minute equaliser in the 1-1 draw with Deportivo Anzoategui, a result which enabled Atletico to remain in first place.
Finally we turn to the Costa Rican Torneo de Verano, where Zone A leaders Limonense top the overall standings on goal difference ahead of Zone B pace-setters San Carlos, who also have 18 points from nine games. Limonense sank Perez Zeledon 4-0 on Sunday to stay two points clear of section rivals Deportivo Saprissa, 2-0 winners against Puntarenas. Liga Deportiva Alajuelense, for their part, beat Santos 3-2 and remain a point behind San Carlos in Zone B.