Independiente, Santos Laguna and Etoile Sahel maintained their unparalleled 100 percent starts to the new seasons in Argentina, Mexico and Tunisia respectively, although a number of their chief rivals for honours also recorded impressive victories over the weekend.

With the title marathons past their halfway stages in Brazil and China, Sao Paulo and Changchun Yatai continue to set the pace. reflects on the recent activity.

Argentinian Apertura: Denis keeps Independiente flying
German Denis is very much the man of the moment in the Apertura. His sixth goal in four games, this time the winner against Argentinos Juniors, moved Independiente on to a maximum 12 points. Leading the chase, three points off the pace, come Velez Sarsfield and Banfield. The latter ran out 4-0 victors at Arsenal on Sunday, while two goals inside the last ten minutes helped Velez overcome Gimnasia y Esgrima Jujuy 4-2.

Meanwhile, after collecting their first win of the campaign one week previous, Boca Juniors made it two straights successes at home to Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata. The Xeneizes took a deserved lead through the lively Rodrigo Palacio before Federico Dominguez equalised, but Pablo Ledesma's last-gasp penalty elevated Miguel Angel Russo's outfit on to seven points.

Top three: Independiente (12 pts), Velez Sasfield (9), Banfield (9)
Bottom three: River Plate (2 pts), Rosario Central (2), Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata (1)
Top scorers: German Denis (6 gls), Pablo Ledesma (4)

Brazilian Championship: Contenders win big
Second-placed Cruzeiro piled the pressure on pacesetters Sao Paulo by beating Corinthians 3-0 away on Saturday, but the defending champions responded by posting their biggest win of the season to recover their six-point advantage. Third-bottom Nautico were the Tricolor Paulista's latest victim, falling to a 5-0 loss inside the Morumbi.

Rogerio Ceni kept his fifth straight clean sheet (Sao Paulo have conceded just seven goals in 21 matches overall) and was on target on Sunday, but he will face a sterner test in attempting to thwart arch-rivals Palmeiras on Wednesday. The Verdão made it 13 points from a possible 15 away to Figueirense at the weekend to jump to fourth.

Top three: Sao Paulo (44 pts), Cruzeiro (38), Botafogo (37)
Relegation zone: Atletico-PR (23 pts), Nautico (20), Juventude (17), America-RN (10)
Top scorers: Josiel (13 gls), Andre Lima (12), Alecsandro (9), Dodo (9)

Mexican Apertura: Santos stun Pachuca
Pachuca lost at home for the first time in over a year as Santos Laguna overcame the daunting atmosphere in Hidalgo to sprint four points clear in Group 2. Daniel Luduena's free-kick proved enough to preserve the Guerreros' 100 percent start to the season, but it ended Pachuca's unbeaten record, though the Tuzos continue out front in Group 1.

They are followed by Jose Pekerman's Toluca, whose 2-1 comeback win over Group 3 leaders Real San Luis left them two points adrift of the section leaders. A further two points back rest Jaguares, who beat Puebla 2-1 away thanks to a brace from Alejandro Vela, the older brother of rising star Carlos. Elsewhere, a Hernan Rodrigo Lopez hat-trick inspired Club America to a 4-1 defeat of Tecos.

Group 1 top two: Pachuca (9 pts), Toluca (7)
Group 2 top two: Santos Laguna (12 pts), Club America (8)
Group 3 top two: Real San Luis (7 pts), Cruz Azul (6)

Chinese Super League: Changchun open up gap
Changchun Yatai enjoyed a dream weekend in the Super League. Not only did Gao Hongbo's team record an impressive 3-1 win at Liaoning FC, but they watched their two closest challengers falter. One point shy of Changchun going into round 18 of 28, holders Shandong Luneng slipped to a 2-1 home defeat by Henan Jianye. The struggling top flight newcomers predictably fell behind in Jinai, but second half goals from their European imports Oliver Fauconnier and Ivo Trenchev swung the result in their favour.

For their part, 2005 champions Dalian Shide were held 2-2 by visiting Tianjin Kangshifu, which, although good enough for them to move into the runners-up spot, three points off the pace, will have left Dutch coach Jo Bonfrere disappointed.

Top three: Changchun Yatai (36 pts), Dalian Shide (33), Shandong Luneng (32)
Bottom three: Henan Jianye (14 pts), Shaanxi Baorong (14), Xiamen Lanshi (11)

Tunisian Ligue 1:Etoile maintain fast start
Holders Etoile Sahel ended round two of the Tunisian League as the only team on six points, courtesy of a 2-1 win at newly-promoted Jendouba Sport. Mehdi Ben Dhifallah and Mohamed Ali Nafkha were on target for Bertrand Marchand's men, while the French coach's former employers Club African, second last season, moved on to four points thanks to a 1-0 reverse of Stade Tunisien, Wissem Yehia netting their first goal of the campaign from the penalty spot.

AS Marsa, who held CS Sfaxien to a draw in their curtain raiser, were the biggest winners over the weekend, sending US Monastir home with a 4-1 defeat.

Top three: Etoile Sahel (6 pts), AS Marsa (4), CA Bizertin (4)
Bottom three: Jendouba Sport (1 pt), Esperance ST (1), Stade Tunisien (0)