Derbies fuel the passion
Some of the world's leagues are reaching their climax, others are just getting started. But everywhere, derby matches catch football fans' interest and fire the unquenchable passions of the world game's devotees. This weekend, there was derby action in Argentina, Brazil, South Africa and Costa Rica, and plenty of drama ensued. FIFA.com has the details.
Argentinian Apertura: San Lorenzo maintain lead
Tigre sat proudly atop the Apertura table after a 1-0 victory over Gimnasia Jujuy on Friday evening, thanks to another goal from their impressive No10 Martin Morel. But San Lorenzo prevailed over Arsenal with two early goals the next day, to move on to 19 points and overtake Diego Cagna's men at the summit. Boca Juniors' faltering challenge suffered with a 4-1 defeat at Godoy Cruz, while fourth-placed Velez Sarsfield were held to a draw at Banfield in a game which featured both four goals and four red cards.
Big game: The La Plata derby looked to be headed for a draw, with the score level at 1-1 ten minutes from time. But Estudiantes struck twice in the final minutes, through Jose Luis Calderon and Mauro Boselli, to condemn ten-man visitors Gimnasia to a 3-1 defeat.
Headline-grabber: While Tigre were engaged in a leadership battle with San Lorenzo, it was a tiger of another kind who stole the headlines. Colombian striker Jairo El Tigre Castillo, back in Argentina after spells in Cyprus and Uruguay, slammed three goals past Boca Juniors to hand the competition favourites their heaviest defeat of the season so far.
Brasileirao: Leaders lose derby
There is nothing like a local derby to overturn the form book, and so it proved in Port Alegre, where leaders Gremio suffered a 4-1 reverse at local rivals Internacional. Tcheco equalised an early goal from the hosts' Argentinian playmaker Andres D'Alessandro, but Internacional simply overran their opponents in the rest of the first half, firing in three more goals without reply. Second-placed Palmeiras failed to take full advantage of Gremio's lapse, but moved joint-top of the standings with a 0-0 draw away to Nautico.
Big game: In Rio's 'Grandfather Derby', Botafogo took a first-half lead through Carlos Alberto, and the points looked safe when their visitors Fluminense had Thiago Silva sent off just after the hour. But Flu did not reach the Copa Libertadores final by giving up easily, and they equalised through on-loan defender Edcarlos in the final minute.
Headline-grabber: There are not too many Bolivians plying their trade in Brazil, but Pablo Escobar certainly showed his worth this weekend. The Paraguay-born midfielder, signed only a month ago, scored his first goal for Ipatinga to secure the points in a must-win basement battle with Vasco da Gama.
American Major League Soccer: Thrillers all round
In a five-goal feast at Buck Shaw Stadium, Real Salt Lake ended San Jose's nine-game unbeaten run to keep themselves well in the hunt in the Western Conference. Two goals from the lightning-quick Darren Huckerby were not enough for the Earthquakes, who were undone by two quality goals from Yura Movsisyan and a brilliant free kick from Javier Morales. Despite Salt Lake's success, CD Chivas held on to second spot in the west, with a 2-1 victory over Kansas City.
Big game: FC Dallas heaped more misery on struggling DC United with a comprehensive 3-0 victory in Texas. Brazilian Andre Rocha set the hosts on the way with a free kick in the ninth minute, and prolific forward Kenny Cooper rounded out the win with a fine individual goal in added time.
Headline-grabber: No question who made the news this weekend: Colorado Rapids' Conor Casey scored a hat-trick, including a dramatic last-ditch winner, to give the Rapids a 5-4 victory over the New York Red Bulls in a topsy-turvy game. With the scores level at 4-4 in injury time, Casey's far-post volley ensured that his side remained in the Western Conference's top four.
Thai Premier League: PEA stumble on the road
BEC Tero Sasana were considered the major remaining stumbling-block for leaders PEA, and so it proved, with the Electric Men slipping to a 1-0 defeat. Champions Chonburi had the chance to overtake PEA as a result, but failed to do so, surprisingly held to a 0-0 home draw by struggling Port Authority. The defending champions consequently sit level with PEA at the top of the standings on 55 points, with both sides facing mid-table opposition in their final two games.
Big game: Royal Thai Army's must-win game away to TOT petered out to a 0-0 draw, and the Army men now need a miracle if they are to escape relegation from the top division.
Headline-grabber: Nigerian striker Ajayi Samuel has revived the fortunes of Asian Champions League participants Krung Thai Bank since his arrival, and impressed again as his side held on for a 2-2 draw away to Chula-Sinthana.
South African Premier Soccer League: SuperSport still undefeated
SuperSport maintained their undefeated record for the season by holding visitors Mamelodi Sundowns to a 1-1 draw in the Tshwane derby on Saturday. The home side's captain Ricardo Katza opened the scoring on 19 minutes, but substitute Dario Monteiro turned home Dillon Shepherd's cross eighteen minutes from time to give Sundowns a point. With early leaders Bidvest Wits out of action this weekend, SuperSport have sneaked into the lead on goal difference.
Big game: Bay United made their home debut in the Premier Soccer League one to remember, defeating fancied Orlando Pirates 2-0. After a scoreless first half, striker Abayomi Adebayo struck for the hosts on 49 minutes, before substitute Luntu Mazana made sure of things in the second minute of added time.
Headline-grabber: Another derby was played out in KwaZulu-Natal, and it was Bradley Ritson, with a smart first-time finish, who gave AmaZulu all three points against in-form neighbours Thanda Royal Zulu at the Princess Magogo Stadium.
Both the early leaders suffered shock defeats in Australia, with Sydney FC succumbing 2-1 to cellar-dwellers Wellington Phoenix, while Melbourne Victory, reduced to ten men for the third game running, fell 2-0 to Queensland.
Saprissa came out on top in Costa Rica's clasico tico, midfielder Celso Borges setting them on the way against Alajuelense with a header on 11 minutes, and star forward Alejandro Alpizar sealing the win just after the half-hour.
The much-anticipated summit battle in Fiji ended in disappointment for the home fans in Labasa, as Ba crusied to a 2-0 win to take out the Super Six Series. Goals from Pita Bolaitoga and national team star Maciu Dunadamu were enough to prevent the Men in Black from taking their second title in succession.