Title deciders and classic battles
While the Campeonato Brasileiro is just getting underway in Brazil, several titles were decided over the weekend in other parts of the Americas. The familiar rivalry between Santos and Monterrey took centre stage in Mexico’s championship play-off, while classic derbies were the focus in MLS and Uruguay. Join FIFA.com as we review all this action and more from the top leagues across the Americas.
Argentina: Viatri boosts Boca, Luna spurs Tigre
After a seven-month absence, forward Lucas Viatri made a dream return from a serious knee injury at the weekend as he helped Boca Juniors reclaim top spot in a 2-0 victory over derby rivals Racing Club. Coming on as a second-half substitute - with both sides goalless - the Argentinian proved the vital spark as he not only opened the scoring on 69 minutes, but did so in thrilling fashion. After receiving a pass with the back of his heel, Viatri proceeded to flick the ball over his shoulder before chasing it down to fire home from 15 metres.
Meanwhile, a Carlos Luna treble inspired Tigre to a 3-1 win over former leaders Newell’s Old Boys, moving the victors up to second place and, more importantly, out of the three-season averaged relegation zone - above San Lorenzo de Almagro for the first time this season. Tigre are now in the promotion/relegation play-off zone, along with San Lorenzo, while Atletico Belgrano are already assured of their safety after a 1-0 victory over Velez Sarsfield.
Brazil: Rio sides take early spoils
In Brazil, all eyes turned to the first round of action in the Campeonato Brasileiro. It was a weekend of success for the Rio de Janeiro-based sides, with Botafogo, Fluminense and Vasco da Gama all claiming wins.
With the long-standing rivalry between the Rio and Sao Paulo states to the fore, Botafoga twice came from behind to beat Sao Paulo, while Fluminense defeated reigning champions Corinthians. Argentinian forward German Herrera hit a treble en route to a 4-2 victory for Botafogo, and Fluminense needed a Leandro Euzebio goal in the 71st-minute to see off Corinthians. The latter match was largely contested between Flu and Timao reserves as both sides looked ahead to their midweek Copa Libertadores quarter-finals. Flamengo were the only Rio de Janeiro outfit not to win, finishing level on a goal apiece with Sport.
Mexico: Santos crowned champions
After a crushing defeat by Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League final last month, Santos Laguna finally gained revenge as they defeated their title rivals to lift the Clausura title for the first time since 2008. Santos had sealed a slight advantage in the first leg of their final tie on Thursday, scoring an away goal through Oribe Peralta at Estadio Tecnológico in a 1-1 draw. Humberto Suazo hit Los Rayados’ reply.
However, things changed in the return leg on Sunday in Torreon, as Peralta capped off a tremendous campaign with Los Guerreros by scoring the winner in a 2-1 triumph. Daniel Luduena opened the scoring before Peralta hit the decider and Aldo de Nigris netted a mere consolation for Monterrey. The win marked a first title for Santos coach Benjamin Galindo, and in contrast, a first loss for Monterrey manager Victor Manuel Vucetich in 13 finals.
Major League Soccer: Woes continue for Galaxy, Toronto
Defending champions Los Angeles Galaxy slipped up again in a narrow 1-0 loss to Chivas USA in the SuperClasico. The match marked Chivas first win at the Home Depot Center this season, and the first time since September 2007 that Galaxy have lost to their city rivals. With a handful of absentees, including David Beckham, Edson Buddle and Robbie Keane, Galaxy succumbed to the same storyline that has haunted them all season long. Despite long periods of dominance, the LA giants went behind to a second-half Jose Erick Correa spot-kick and were never able to recover. Without a win in five matches, the Galaxy are rooted to the bottom in the Western Conference, while Chivas hold sixth.
In the East, Toronto FC’s woes also continued. Despite showing early signs of hope by reaching the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Champions League, the Canadian club have yet to record a win this season. A 3-1 loss to DC United handed them an MLS-record ninth loss to start the season.
In Uruguay, Penarol and Nacional met in the famous Superclasico. In a match acclaimed as one of the greatest duels in football, Nacional grabbed the decisive edge through second-half substitute Alvaro Recoba to bag a 3-2 victory. With Rodrigo Mora giving Penarol the lead on just one minute, the derby tilted early in the hosts' favour. However, an exchange of goals between Penarol forward Marcelo Zalayeta and Nacional midfielder Facundo Piriz had things deadlocked. Recoba came to Nacional’s rescue, though, as he scored the winner just four minutes after stepping on to the pitch.
Finally, titles were decided in Guatemala and Costa Rica. Xelaju MC defeated Municipal 3-1 on penalties to hoist their fifth title in history. Although a 1-0 first-leg win had put Municipal in control, all that changed on Sunday as Rojos had Jaime Penedo sent off early on. Israel Silva then made no mistake from the spot, while goals in the second half from Manuel Leon and Wilber Caal forced the match into extra time.
In Costa Rica, Herediano won the Torneo de Verano to end an 18-year trophy drought. Herediano claimed a 4-2 first-leg advantage over Santos in their play-off final, and after first falling behind in the return fixture, rallied to a 2-1 victory.