Streaks snap in Mexico as Boca climb
Tijuana and Chivas both saw impressive runs of form snapped in Mexico over the weekend, while Lucas upstaged Neymar in a thrilling Paulista derby in Brazil. Over in Argentina, capital giants Boca Juniors continued to climb back toward the top and Major League Soccer’s Vancouver Whitecaps earned their first-ever road win thanks to Jay DeMerit’s maiden MLS goal. FIFA.com takes a closer look at all the weekend club action from around the Americas.
Brazilian State Championships: Lucas shines, Inter go goal crazy
There were a pair of heated derbies in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Lucas outshone Neymar in the all-Paulista contest, putting on a show for Brazil national team boss Mano Menezes, who watched from the stands at the Morumbi. Neymar got himself on the scoresheet and was Santos’ best player, but São Paulo’s Lucas was the man of the hour, controlling the pace and style of the game with thrilling orchestrations. He proved a constant threat in the 3-2 win.
In Rio, Fellype Gabriel – a late replacement for Sebastian ‘El Loco’ Abreu – scored three goals in Botafogo’s 3-1 win over Vasco, who were never able to recover after set-piece specialist Juninho Pernambucano missed a penalty kick. Despite missing Wagner Love and Ronaldinho, Flamengo were able to pull off of a 1-0 win on the road against Friburguense and are still on course to reach the next round.
Elsewhere, Internacional went goal crazy in the Gaucho State Championship, thrashing Juventude 7-0. Leandro Damião celebrated his 100th appearance in style, scoring twice in the rout with Inter hitting six goals in the second half, including four in the space of just seven minutes. Atlético-MG won their seventh match in a row in the Mineiro State Championship, beating Villa Nova 2-1 to keep alive their record as the only 100 per cent side in the competition.
Argentinian Clausura: Boca keep climbing
Tigre remain at the top of the table in Argentina, but only by the slimmest of margins as their 1-1 draw with Estudiantes allowed Boca Juniors to climb to within one point of them. Despite their vaunted position at the top of the heap, Tigre will breathe a sigh of relief as their draw saw them climb out of the automatic relegation zone (of the three-season averaged standings) for the first time this season.
The Xeneizes of Boca had 31-year-old striker Walter Erviti to thank for a 1-0 win over San Martin de San Juan, who put up stiff resistance. Velez and Estudiantes remain in third place with twelve points each, one behind Boca and two shy of the leaders.
Mexican Clausura: Streaks end for Chivas, Tijuana
Club America beat Mexico City rivals UNAM Pumas, ravaged by injuries in the lead-up to the game, in the glamour encounter of the round. Ecuadorian sensation Cristian Benitez opened the scoring early from the spot for Las Aquilas of America before Juan Carlos Cacho returned the favour, also via a penalty kick. But Pumas were unable to hold on to what would have been an impressive point, with the fleet-footed Vicente Matias Vuoso bagging all three points five minutes from time.
Elsewhere, Guadalajara giants Chivas saw their recent winning streak come to an abrupt end in Queretaro’s famous La Corregidora Stadium. The home side, who are struggling in last place in the Clausura, set up a defensive dyke and picked up a creditable goalless draw for their efforts. Chivas, one of the top sides in the country’s footballing pantheon, are now in twelfth place after 11 rounds and five points off a play-off qualifying spot – a sorry state of affairs for their usually spoiled fans. Another streak came to an end at the weekend, too, as Tijuana, who had gone six games without tasting defeat, were edged 1-0 by Tigres. Even so, the side from the infamous USA-Mexico border-town, who are more accustomed to relegation battles than life at the top, are alive and challenging for the title.
Santos Laguna and Monarcas Morelia remain the teams to beat, both tangled at the summit with 23 points after weekend wins.
American Major League Soccer: Quintet stays perfect
Two weeks into the young season, Sporting Kansas City and Houston Dynamo are perched atop the Eastern Conference with two wins from two games. KC inflicted more pain on the ailing New England Revolution on Saturday, handing the Boston-based side, who have now conceded five goals and scored none, another loss under new boss and former playing hero Jay Heaps. Houston picked up a second straight 1-0 win, edging out San Jose thanks to a Brad Davis spot-kick.
Real Salt Lake, Colorado Rapids and Vancouver Whitecaps are on top in the West after perfect starts of their own. RSL - champions in 2009 - kept Thierry Henry off the scoresheet in a 2-0 win, just one week after routing star-studded defending champions LA Galaxy (who rebounded this week with a Robbie Keane-inspired win). The Whitecaps won their first-ever game on the road in MLS. Vancouver captain and USA international Jay DeMerit grabbed the only goal against Chivas USA. It was the former Watford man’s first goal in MLS and a welcome sign for a side that finished tied with the Revolution for last place overall last season. “We had a game-plan and we stuck to it,” said DeMerit, leading the Canada-based team that is fast becoming known for winning with grit and determination, if not possession and style.
Universidad de Chile hung on to first place in Chile for a second straight week with a 3-2 win over Union Espanola. O’Higgins, one of the revelations of the season, remain in second while Huachipato climbed into third with a 2-0 victory over Antofagasta.
After four rounds in Peru, undefeated Sporting Cristal and Real Garcilaso are top of the pack with three wins and a draw. Free-scoring Cristal, led by the goals of Hernan Renglfo and Junior Ross, maintain the slight edge on goal difference while both clubs are being pursued by Melgar and Cesar Vallejo.
In Paraguay, Olimpia remained at the top of the table after a tense 2-1 win over Tacuary. They now lead second-place Cerro Porteno, who edged Libertad, by two points.