The big clubs of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro had a field day on Saturday as carnival got under way in Brazil. Meanwhile, Pumas and Tigres showed their claws again in Mexico, and Estudiantes hit the front again in Argentina. rounds up those stories and more in its weekly Latin America league review.

Brazilian state championships: Party time
Brazil’s big clubs got into the carnival spirit on Saturday as they helped themselves to important wins. Corinthians overcame Linense to move out in front in the Paulista championship, while Sao Paulo and Santos both won and now have second-placed Mirassol in their sights. Elsewhere, the battle for the Taca Rio got underway, with Flamengo, Fluminense and Botafogo all posting hard-fought wins.

Big game: Ronaldinho’s Flamengo had to work hard to keep their unbeaten record intact, O Rubro-Negro coming from behind to beat Olaria 3-2. The former Barcelona and AC Milan star scored in an outstanding performance, with team-mate Thiago Neves hitting Fla’s other goals.
Headline-grabber: Liedson continues to impress as Ronaldo’s replacement at Corinthians, collecting his eighth goal in six games in O Timão’s defeat of Linense on Saturday, their first away win in five months. The new signing is now the top scorer in the Sao Paulo championship.

Mexican Clausura: Big cats on the prowl
Pumas UNAM maintained their unstoppable form with a third win on the trot, winning 2-0 at Atlante courtesy of a Martin Bravo brace. Having won six of their opening nine matches Pumas lead the overall standings with 21 points, three clear of fellow felines Tigres, who picked up a useful draw at Guadalajara. Also in the headlines were Monarcas Morelia, who produced a regal display in disposing of Toluca 6-1, with front man Rafael Marquez Lugo helping himself to a hat-trick.

Big game: America stayed top of Group 2 thanks to a thrilling 3-2 victory at Santos. Angel Martinez was the hero of the hour for Las Águilas with a double, the second of them coming two minutes from time to seal all three points for his side.
Headline-grabber: The meeting between struggling duo Estudiantes Tecos and Pachuca ended in tears for the visitors, the CONCACAF region’s representatives at the last FIFA Club World Cup. Still rooted to the bottom of Group 2, Pachuca are now coachless as well, with Pablo Marini tendering his resignation in the wake of the 1-0 defeat.

Argentinian Clausura: El Pincha back in charge
Estudiantes made a rapid recovery from last week’s home reverse to Banfield, bouncing back in the La Plata derby to defeat Gimnasia 2-0 with goals from Gaston Fernandez and Enzo Perez. Leaders at the start of the day, River Plate dropped to third after a goalless stalemate with Argentinos Juniors and are now a point adrift of Estudiantes.

Big game: Racing Club moved into second place in the table but only after suffering an almighty scare at home to Olimpo. Miguel Angel Russo’s side coasted into a 4-0 lead at the start of the second-half only to endure a nerve-wracking final half-hour when the visitors stormed back with three goals of their own inside seven minutes. Despite suffering a scare or two, the home side held on.
Headline-grabber: Buenos Aires neighbours Velez Sarsfield and Boca Juniors both went into their Sunday showdown at the Estadio Jose Amalfitani in need of points. It was El Fortín who collected all three, however, thanks to Fernando Ortiz’s solitary goal, one of the few highlights of a tepid encounter. The win moved Velez up to tenth place and left mighty Boca languishing in an unfamiliar 16th.

Olimpia stayed seven points clear of the field in Paraguay after maintaining their perfect start with a seventh straight win, a 4-3 defeat of Guarani. Leading the chase are Nacional, who downed Sol de America 2-0. Cerro Porteno moved up to fifth with victory at Independiente, with their Argentinian star Juan Manuel Iturbe scoring the only goal of the game.

In Chile, Universidad de Chile slumped to defeat at home to Union San Felipe and have been joined on 16 points at the top of the table by unfancied Union La Calera, who saw off Universidad Concepcion 2-0 at home. Central Espanol’s 1- 1 draw with Fenix allowed Defensor Sporting to move into a one-point lead in Uruguay after they saw off El Tanque Sisley 1-0.

In Ecuador, Deportivo Quito won 6-1 at Independiente Jose Teran to replace Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito, whose derby meeting with Emelec was postponed due to both sides’ upcoming commitments in the Copa Libertadores this week. Finally, Vista Hermosa cut Firpo’s lead in El Salvador to a single point after overcoming them 2-0 at home.