Monday, 28 November 2011

Brasileirão Petrobras - Week 37

Palmeiras 1-0 São Paulo
Santos 1-1 Bahia
Flamengo  1-0 Internacional
Fluminense 1-2 Vasco da Gama
Grêmio 2-2 Atlético Goianiense
Atlético Mineiro  4 - 0  Botafogo
Figueirense  0-1 Corinthians
Coritiba  1-0  Avaí
América Mineiro 2-1 Atlético Paranaense
Ceará  2-2 Cruzeiro

The penultimate week of the season and still so much to be decided in the Brasileirão. Would Corinthians collect the title this week and who else would be joining Avaí in Série B next season.

At the Orlando Scarpelli in front of the Premier Sports TV cameras, Corinthians knew that victory over Figueirense and Vasco da Gama failing to win at the Engenhão against Fluminense would hand them the title. When Liédson put Corinthians ahead half way though the second half the massed ranks of fans believed the title was there for the taking. Then Alecsandro put Vasco ahead at the Engenhão with thirteen minutes left and it was as you were in the title race. The Corinthians fans were celebrating again when Fred levelled for Fluminense with his 21st goal of the season six minutes from time. They were about five mintues behind in Rio and when the full time whistle went in Florianópolis they Corinthians players stayed on the pitch and received the news of Leandro's dismissal reducing Vasco to ten men. As the party was about the get into full swing, there was injury time drama at the Engenhão when Diego Cavalieri spilled a shot and Bernardo pounced to give Vasco the win. It's all on next week now where both teams play deadly rivals, Corithians entertain Palmeiras while Vasco entertain Flamengo. The defeat for Figueirense may cost them a spot in next years Libertadores.

América-MG's relegation was finally confirmed despite a victory over Atlético-PR in Uberlândia. Leading scorer Kempes put América-MG ahead with twenty minutes gone but Atlético-PR got a life line when Paulo Baier converted from the spot on the hour. Gilson got the América-MG winner ten minutes from time to leave Atlético-PR on the brink of relegation. In another big relegation clash, Cruzeiro picked up a point at fellow strugglers Ceará to ensure that América-MG can't overtake them in the table. Ceará are also in a desperate struggle against the drop and they took the lead through Osvaldo with twenty minutes gone. Anselmo Ramon levelled three minutes later and when Paraguayan star Jose Ortigoza put Cruzeiro ahead eight minutes after the break they had secured their place in the top flight for next season. An equaliser from Daniel Marques eight minutes from time rescued a point for Ceará and gave them a fighting chance of surviving the drop next week. Bahia ensured their place in the top flight next season when they picked up a point at the Vila against Santos. In fact it was the first goal of the night that put Bahia ahead after eight minutes, Souza with the finish. Neymar's thirteenth of the season levelled matter after half an hour but Santos have that trip to Japan for the FIFA World Club Cup firmly on their minds.

The battle for the last Libertadores took a turn as well as Flamengo got themselves into poll position with victory over Internacional in Volta Redonda. Ronaldinho Gáucho put some bad press in the preceeding week behind him with the only goal of the game just before half time to leave the Rubro-Negro needing a point next week for the last spot. Coritiba have sneaked up on the edges of grabbing a Libertadores spot after victory over already relegated Avaí. The visitors had Fabiano sent off seventeen minutes from time and Jeci grabbed the all important goal six minutes from time. Avaí finished with nine men when Fernandinho was sent off a minute from time. Even with Flamengo in pole position at the moment the last Libertadores spot will be betweem them, Inter, Figueirense and Coritiba next week.

São Paulo's Libertadores hopes were ended when they fell to defeat to Palmeiras at the Pacaembu. Marcos Assunção with the only goal of the game ten minutes after half time to give Felipão back to back wins. São Paulo finished with ten men when Rivaldo was sent off in injury time. Botafogo's disastrous end to the season continued as Loco Abreu missed a penalty as their crushing defeat at Atlético-MG ended their feint Libertadores hopes as well. Daniel Carvalho put Atlético-MG ahead from the spot with a quarter of an hour gone and André doubled the lead ten minutes later. A second for André thirteen minutes from time sealed the points before Leonardo Silva wrapped up Atlético-MG's biggest win of the season in injury time. Finally the only game of the week that had little to no significance attached to it finished in an entertaining draw at the Olímpico. Atlético-GO took the lead  with twenty five minutes gone through Anselmo but two goals in a minute from Willian Magrão and Marquinhos put Grêmio ahead. Anderson rescued a point for Atlético-GO seven minutes from time with both teams now settled in mid-table obscurity.

So, one week to go in the 2011 Brasileirão and so much to play for. The title is up for grabs as is the final positions in Libertadores qualifying. It's two from three for the final relegation spots and it will all unfold from 7pm on Sunday. It's also rivalry round with all major Clássico matches taking place as well. They line up like this

Corinthians x Palmeiras
São Paulo x Santos
Internacional x Grêmio
Cruzeiro x Atlético Mineiro
Atlético Goianiense x América Mineiro
Atlético Paranaense x Coritiba
Bahia x Ceará
Avaí x Figueirense
Botafogo x Fluminense
Vasco da Gama x Flamengo

The Série B season came to a close at the weekend with Náutico claiming the last promotion spot for the 2012 Brasileirão. They join fellow Recife based club Sport in the top flight alongside the Paulista sides Ponte Preta and the 2011 Série B Champions Portuguesa.

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Friday, 25 November 2011

Ex-pat of the week #1

Introducing the first of a new series where we run the rule over South American players plying their trade outside of the continent and pick out our performance of the week. This particular correspondent realises that this could end up being a lot of work, so we'll see how long we can keep it going for, but the intention is there, loyal reader. Trust us on that one. Anyway, to business.

This week saw a full round of UEFA Champions League fixtures as well as the regular European leagues while in the USA, the competition reached it's conclusion. Here are the nominees, in no particular order:

Lionel Messi. One gets the feeling that we'll be mentioning this chap quite a bit over the weeks; we've heard he's a bit tidy at this football lark. This week, his audacious penalty effort against AC Milan was chalked off - and he was booked - but he slammed home the retake before teeing up Xavi for the winner with THE most audacious through-ball.
Edinson Cavani. Two goals in the UCL game against big-spending Manchester City sealed the win which put one Neapolitan foot into the knockout stages. He was so good that City were immediately linked with signing the Uruguayan come January.
Marcelo Oliveira. One of a number of unheralded South Americans at APOEL, Oliveira has been at the heart of a very effective defensive unit that's guided the Cypriot club to top spot in their UCL group, capped by this week's backs-to-the-wall effort away to cash-rich Zenit St Petersburg.
Pablo Aimar. 32 years old now, Aimar rolled back the years with possibly his best performance in something like six or seven years as Benfica secured progress to the knockout stages of the UCL with a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford.
Matiás Fernandez. The Chilean midfielder was in sublime form and bagged a couple of goals at Sporting CP saw off União de Leiria to move within a point of Porto and Benfica at the top of the Liga ZON Sagres which is now open wider than the mouth of the Amazon.
Juninho (Vitor Junior). Beckham, Keane and Donovan may have grabbed the headlines on the night, but the Brazilian's tireless efforts in midfield, screening the back four, went a long way to ensuring LA Galaxy were not only easily the best defensive side in MLS this year, but also took home the bacon in the final against the dangerous, counter-attacking Houston Dynamo.

And the winner is....
Pablo Aimar
He was quite magnificent in Manchester on Tuesday. OK, so it's partly because we don't want to end up giving this to Messi every week, but Aimar deserves this one.

Agree? Don't? Comment below or join the debate on our twitter feed.

Copa Sudamericana - Semi Final First Leg

Vasco da Gama 1-1 Universidad de Chile
LDU Quito 2-0 Vélez Sarsfield

Vasco da Gama's home form in the Sudamericana had been pretty damned impressive. Three victories and fifteen goals scored in the process so when La U returned to the city of their stunning 4-0 success against Flamengo five weeks ago it wasn't the easiest game in the world to call. Vasco took a deserved lead with 33 minutes gone. Allan attacked down the middle of the pitch and his pass took a wicked deflection off Gustavo Lorenzetti. Bernardo got to the ball first, and his turn and shot beat Jhonny Herrera and into the left hand corner of the net. It was the first time that U de Chile had trailed in an away leg so far this season but they came out with a purpose in the second half and got themselves back into the tie, and a valuable away goal, ten minutes from time. A free kick from Marcelo Diaz dropped around the penalty spot, Fernando Prass got caught in no mans land and Osvaldo González headed home to get the vital goal.

At the Casa Blanca the night after, 2009 champions LDU Quito gained a huge advantage as they will take a two goal cushion back to Buenos Aires next week against Vélez Sarsfield. After a score less first half, LDU took the lead after Vélez lost possession deep in their own half and Hernan Barcos surged upfield and his shot from 25 yards out flew into the corner of the goal. The Argentinian strike doubled his teams lead six minutes from time as a great passing move split the Vélez defence before his shot from a tight angle flew in at Marcelo Barovero's near post. It was a cruel blow for Ricardo Gareca's side who will have it all to do in the return leg next week.

The second legs take place next week and both will be live on Premier Sports TV

Vélez Sarsfield v LDU Quito - Wednesday 0015GMT
Universidad de Chile v Vasco da Gama - Wednesday 2350GMT

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Monday, 21 November 2011

Brasileirão Petrobras - Week 36

São Paulo 3-1 América Mineiro
Vasco da Gama 2-0 Avaí
Grêmio 1-3 Ceará
Botafogo 1-2 Internacional
Corinthians 2-1 Atlético Mineiro
Cruzeiro 1-1 Atlético Paranaense
Atlético Goianiense 0-0 Flamengo
Bahia 0-2 Palmeiras
Coritiba 1-0 Santos
Figueirense 0-4 Fluminense

On Saturday the América-MG revival was bought to a halt as they were left on the brink of relegation after defeat to São Paulo at the Morumbi. Luís Fabiano put São Paulo ahead half way through the first half and he got a second to double the lead on the stoke of half time. Juan made it three six minutes after the break but São Paulo suffered a blow when Xandão was sent off on the hour. Alessandro pulled a goal back for América-MG with twelve minutes left and it looks like their season long stay in the top flight will end this weekend. The Premier Sports TV cameras were on hand to see Vasco da Gama go to the top of the table when they condemned Avaí to relegation at the São Januário. The visitors were reduced to ten men with just twenty minutes gone when Junior Urso was sent off for a second yellow card offence. The ten men held on for a further half an hour before Felipe but Vasco ahead six minutes after the break. When Elton doubled the lead fourteen minutes later you could feel the relief from the Vasco fans. Ceará still remain in the relegation zone despite a fantastic win at Grêmio. Leading scorer Felipe Azevedo put Ceará ahead with half an hour gone but the lead lasted only seven minutes before Douglas got the tricolor back on level terms. A second for Felipe Azevedo, converting from the penalty spot, restored the Ceará lead four minutes after the break and he completed his hat-trick ten minutes later to wrap up the points.

After their title challenge floundered in midweek, managerless Botafogo's hopes of securing a place in the Libertadores next season suffered a blow when Internacional left the Engenhão with all three points. Leandro Damião put Inter ahead on the stroke of half time and Oscar doubled the lead fifteen minutes from time. Felipe Menezes pulled a goal back three minutes later but it as Inter who jumped into the final qualifying spot. In front of the Premier Sports TV cameras Corinthians went back to the top of the table after coming from behind to defeat Atlético-MG at the Pacaembu. When Leonardo Silva put Atlético-MG ahead ten minutes after the break it was just what the Vasco fans wanted to hear but Liédson thought he'd rescued a point for Corinthians thirteen minutes from time. Cometh injury time, cometh the man as Adriano, in only his fourth appearance of the season, grabbed a winner to leave Corinthians in the driving seat in the title race. Two teams threatened with relegation met in Sete Lagoas and there was nothing to separate Cruzeiro and Atlético-PR. The visitors took the lead with twenty-six minutes gone when Marcinho put them ahead but Charles levelled for Cruzeiro two minutes before the break. Neither team could find a second half winner and the result still leaves both teams in danger of the drop. No goals at the Serra Dourada as a point was enough to secure Atlético-GO's top flight status and make life very difficult for Flamengo's bid to be in the Copa Libertadores next year. It's a second straight scoreless draw for Flamengo who really need to be finding the back of the net if they are to be at the top table next year.

It took a long time coming but Palmeiras finally secured their place in the top flight next season after a first win in eleven when they defeated Bahia. Ricardo Bueno put Palmeiras ahead with twenty minutes gone to ease their fears but they only wrapped up the victory in injury time when Marcos Assuncão got the second as Bahia pressed for an equaliser. Coritiba can look forward to Copa Sudamericana action next year after they defeated Santos at the Couto Pereira. A goal from Leonardo on the hour was enough for to win it for Coritiba as Muricy Ramalho rested some of his star players with a place in Série A secured and the FIFA World Club Cup in mind. At the Orlando Scarpelli, Fluminense secured a spot in the Copa Libertadores when they ended Figuerense's fourteen match unbeaten run in spectacular fashion. After his four goal show in midweek, Fred was again the Fluminense talisman as he added a hat-trick to make it seven goals for the week and twelve in his last six games. The former Olympique Lyonnias man opened the scoring three mintues after the break and doubled the lead nine minutes later. Marquinho got in on the act with the third eighteen mintues from time before Fred wrapped up his hat-trick five minutes from time to take him to twenty for the season. It was a first defeat for Figueirense since a 2-1 defeat at home to São Paulo on September 3 and leaves them in a three way fight for the last Libertadores spot.

Next week all fixtures kick off at the same time with just 180 minutes left in the season. Flamengo take their home game to Macaé and América-MG move to Uberlândia due to Stadium clashes. The title is still up for grabs, as is the last Libertadores spot while two teams are still available for the drop to Série B. They line up like this

Palmeiras x São Paulo
Santos x Bahia
Flamengo x Internacional
Fluminense x Vasco da Gama
Grêmio x Atlético Goianiense
Atlético Mineiro x Botafogo
Figueirense x Corinthians
Coritiba x Avaí
Américo Mineiro x Atlético Paranaense
Ceará x Cruzeiro

Meanwhile, the last weekend of fixtures take place in Série B at the weekend. Portuguesa will return to the top flight as Champions whilst Náutico and Ponte Preta will join them in the top flight. Five teams, Sport Recife, Bragantino, Vitória, Boa and Americana are all still in with a shout of the fourth and final promotion spot.

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Friday, 18 November 2011

Brasileirão Petrobras - Week 35

Fluminense 5-4 Grêmio
Internacional 1-0 Bahia
Atlético Paranaense 1-0 São Paulo
América Mineiro 2-1 Botafogo
Palmieras 1-1 Vasco da Gama
Avaí 0-0 Cruzeiro
Ceará 0-1 Corinthians
Santos 1-1 Atlético Goianiense
Flamengo 0-0 Figueirense
Atlético Mineiro 2-1 Coritiba

Four games left as the race for the title, Libertadores spots and avoiding relegation hots up in the Brasileirão. The week opened at the Engenhão as Fluminense kept their slim title hopes alive with victory over Grêmio in a crazy game. Rafael Marques put Grêmio ahead with seventeen minutes gone but Fred levelled for Flu eight minutes later but the visitors went into the break ahead when Marquinhos struck on the stroke of half time. A second for Fred eight minutes after the break levelled matters again and the home side took the lead just after the hour when Rafael Sóbis got his tenth of the season. After a crazy two minutes spell it looked like Flu's title dream was over when first Brandão and then Adílson had Grêmio ahead with just fourteen minutes to go. However Fred converted from the spot to level the match with twelve minutes to go and then the former Lyon man won it with his fourth of the game nine minutes from time. Brandão was then sent off two minutes later and the home fans had to endure an agonising six added minutes before the three points were in the bag. Internacional remain in Libertadores contention after a ninth minute Gilberto goal was enough to see them home against Bahia at the Beira-Rio. The visitors are still not safe from the drop after this result but another victory should guarantee them top flight football next season. Atlético-PR's battle against the drop continued as they defeated a São Paulo side that will now be lucky to bring Libertadores football to the Morumbi next year. A tenth minutes strike from Ecuadorian strike Joffre Guerrón, only his fifth goal of the season, was enough to give Atlético-PR a valuable victory.

If you're going to bottom of the table for most of the year and you're going to go on a three game winning run, who better than Corinthians, Fluminense and now Botafogo as your victims as América-MG ended the Alvinegro's title hopes in Sete Lagoas last night. When Kempes put América-MG ahead from the spot, his 12th of the season, ten minutes before the break Botafogo were on thin ice and when Fábio Júnior made it two five minutes later the cracks began to appear. Sebastian Abreu got Botafogo back in the game just after the hour and when Gilson got sent off just after the visitors had a man advantage. But they couldn't make it count and now have a fight on their hands for a Libertadores spot, which they will do without Caio Júnior who was shown the door on the teams return to Rio de Janeiro. The title race took a turn when Palmeiras did hated rivals Corinthians a favour by holding Vasco da Gama at the Pacaembu. Vasco made the perfect start to the game when Dedé scored for the third game in succession with just four minutes on the clock. Now you would have expected the Palmerias fans to be happy with that, but Felipão is under huge pressure at the moment and the Big Green are in danger of the drop and they levelled eighteen minutes after the break when Luan got his ninth of the season. Avaí's three year stay in the top flight is as good as over when they were held to a goal less draw by fellow strugglers Cruzeiro at the Ressacada. The point leaves Avaí eight points short of safety now with just nine to play for. Cruzeiro remain a point ahead of safety but finished the game with ten men after Naldo was sent off five minutes from time. Vasco's draw was Corinthians gain as the Muskateers secured a vital draw at the Castelão against Ceará. The Peruvian substitute Luís Ramírez with the vital goal nine minutes from time to leave Corinthians two points clear at the top of the table. Ceará, who remain deep in relegation trouble, had Fabrício sent off after a second yellow card five minutes from time.

Where as Wednesday has produced goals galore it was a different story on Thursday night with only one game seeing a positive result. Santos left it late at the Vila to claim a point against an Atlético-GO side which is still not quite safe from the drop yet. Atlético-GO took the lead nine minutes before the break when Leonardo gave them the lead but the suffered a blow on the hour when Agenor was sent off. Cue the charge from the home side as they searched for the goal to get them back on level terms and it eventually came in the fifth minute of added time as Paulo Henrique Ganso claimed his second goal of the season to rescue a point. No goals at the Engenhão as Figuerense's six game winning run was ended by a Flamengo side who's own title challenge was all but ended. Ronaldinho Gáucho took the brunt of the Flamengo fans abuse but Figueirense blew a great chance to win the game when substitute Aloisio missed from the spot on the hour. The result also ends Figueirense's title hopes but they will still have a big say on where the crown ends up. Finally Atlético-MG moved five points clear of the relegation zone when they made it five wins out of the last seven games when they defeated Coritiba in Sete Lagoas. Neto Berola put Atlético-MG ahead with twenty minutes gone but they had to wait until ten minutes from time before Leonardo Silva grabbed the crucial second. Coritiba pulled a goal back through Bill's 12th of the season two minutes from time but Atlético-MG held on the claim the win and got one win away from safety.

Only three weeks left to go and the two title challengers are both at home this weekend.

São Paulo x América Mineiro
Vasco da Gama x Avaí - Coverage on Premier Sports TV
Grêmio x Ceará
Corinthians x Atlético Mineiro - Coverage on Premier Sports TV
Botafogo x Internacional
Cruzeiro x Atlético Paranaense
Atlético Goianiense x Flamengo
Figueirense x Fluminense
Coritiba x Santos
Bahia x Palmeiras

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Copa Sudamericana - Week 16

Libertad 1-0 LDU Quito
3-3 on points, LDU Quito advances 5-4 on penalties
Universidad de Chile 3-0 Arsenal
Universidad de Chile advances 6-0 on points

2009 winners LDU Quito made it through to a semi final clash against Vélez Sarsfield after needing penalties to get past Libertad of Paraguay in Asunción. LDU Quito came to the Estadio Dr. Nicolás Leoz quite happy to park the bus and hang on to their first leg advantage. With LDU moments away from going through courtesy that Luis Bolaños fluke last week Libertad levelled the tie in the last minute of regulation when a headed goal from Pablo Velazquez rescued them. No extra time is played at this stage of the competition so it was straight to penalty kicks. With LDU Quito first up to the plate the first four kicks were successful before Bernardo Medina saved Diego Calderón's poor effort. Uruguayan Omar Pouso put Libertad ahead before Jorge Guagua levelled again. The LDU keeper, Alexander Domínguez, saved from Ignacio Canuto to level it at 3-3 after 4 kicks. It was basically sudden death from here on in, Hernan Barcos edged LDU ahead before goalkeeper Medina sent it into official sudden death. Neicer Reasco confidently put LDU in the box seat before a poor penalty from substitute Manuel Maciel was saved easily by Domínguez to sent LDU through to the last four.

In the National Stadium in Santiago, Univerdidad de Chile made it through to the last four when they brushed aside the challenge of Arsenal of Argentina. Eduardo Vargas put La U ahead with just ten minutes on the clock and Fernando Castro doubled the lead in injury time at the end of the first half. Gustavo Canales for the third eleven minutes after the break to wrap up a comfortable passage for the Chilean Champions. Frustration got the better of the Arsenal side and Luciano Leguizamón was sent off with 65 minutes gone just four minutes after coming on for Nicolas Aguirre.

The Semi Final begin next week, with both games to be covered by Premier Sports TV. Dates and times have yet to be confirmed.

Universidad de Chile v Vasco da Gama
LDU Quito v Vélez Sarsfield

Premier Sports TV is the home of South American football in the UK
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Monday, 14 November 2011

Uruguay steal a march

Picking up where we left off last month, the road to Brazil continued with another double round of fixtures and it was all about as South American as you've come to expect.

Round 3

Argentina 1-1 Bolivia
Uruguay 4-0 Chile
Paraguay 2-1 Ecuador
Colombia 1-1 Venezuela

The main stories of the third round of fixtures in the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying competition both centred around the game in Montevidéo where Chile were the visitors and it was they who made the early headlines as the game happened to coincide with the baptism of Jorge Valdivia's daughter. A joyous occasion, no doubt, and one that Valdivia enjoyed in the company of his team-mates Gonzalo Jara, Arturo Vidal, Carlos Carmona and Jean Beausejour to the point that they rocked up to the team hotel after curfew and a touch the worse for wear. Manager Claudio Borghi summarily sent the lot of them home. Jara was an injury doubt for both games and Beausejour was suspended for the Uruguay match, but all five are big players for the country and would be missed. Meanwhile, Luis Suárez was about to put his issues emanating from Liverpool's Premier League clash with Manchester United some weeks ago behind him and come up with his finest display for his nation as he bagged all four goals as Uruguay routed the sorry Chileans. His first came three minutes before the interval, a low, scudding shot from 20 yards that found the bottom corner and he made it two in first-half stoppage time. Gaston Ramirez put pressure on Chile keeper Claudio Bravo who dropped a cross at the feet of Edinson Cavani whose attempted lob was headed off the line. Suárez was following in though and nodded it back past the defence for a 2-0 half-time lead. Midway through the second half and Suárez completed his hat-trick with a superb header following some great work up the right hand side from Diego Pérez and Martín Cáceres who supplied the killer ball. And the fourth followed six minutes later, though Suárez did rather nick it off Cavani's toes as he smacked it right-footed from the edge of the box.
With Peru the side to sit the third round of games out, Uruguay's big rivals for top spot failed to match la Celeste's result which left them clear at the top. Most surprising was Argentina's draw at the Monumental with lowly Bolivia - very much the least fancied side in the competition. Argentina battered them. Chance after chance came and went - Javier Pastore, Gonzalo Higuaín and Lionel Messi all went close - and they had the ball in the net twice, but were twice pulled back for offside. That failure to take chances bit them hard when Marcelo Martins seized on some lackadaisical defensive work from Martín Demichelis and fired Bolivia ahead. Ezequiel Lavezzi came on following the goal and brought Argentina level almost immediately with a beautifully curled effort from the edge of the box.
Without star man Radamel Falcao, Colombia could only manage a draw against fast-improving Venezuela, but Fredy Guarín put them ahead with an early thunderbolt from all of 30 yards. They couldn't find a second though and were made to pay late on as a long ball wasn't dealt with and substitute Frank Feltscher nipped in to level it up in the Barranquilla downpour.
Paraguay notched their first win of the campaign at home to Ecuador and were ahead a couple of minutes into the second half as Cristian Riveros got round the back to meet a deep free-kick and turn it in. Ten minutes later and another set piece undid Ecuador, Dario Veron with a splendid diving header to double the lead. Ecuador did get one back late on, Joao Rojas walking past a statuesque defence to get on the end of an Edison Méndez cross and head in.

Round 4

Colombia 1-2 Argentina (some jerky footage - careful if you suffer from vertigo)
Ecuador 2-0 Peru
Chile 2-0 Paraguay
Venezuela 1-0 Bolivia

Uruguay, unbeaten in the competition, sat out round four safe in the knowledge that someone would have to go golo-loco to dislodge them from top spot and went off to Italy for a friendly. Which they won. They are, however, joined at the top of the standings on seven points by two other nations.
Argentina needed a late, late winner from Sergio Agüero to see off a determined Colombia side, still without star man Falcao. They had to come from behind as well after Colombia went ahead in the last minute of the first half through Dorlan Pabon's free-kick from the edge of the box, though the final touch was Javier Mascherano's, just enough to turn it past Sergio Roméro. Cometh the hour; cometh the man. Lionel Messi hasn't been getting the praise by his countrymen that we Europeans are used to dishing out to him, but he started the move that got Argentina back into it. He took it past two men and shipped the ball wide for José Sosa. His cross was too near David Ospina, the Colombian keeper, but he couldn't hold it. Messi, following through, tidied up and squared matters. And that's how it looked to be staying until Messi, again, took on the defence and fed Gonzalo Higuaín. His shot wasn't held - again Ospina at fault - and Agüero swooped to snatch the win.
The other side that join the favourites on seven points are everyone's new favourite underdogs Venezuela. Bolivia had the better of the early exchanges, but found Renny Vega in inspired form in the Vinotinto goal. On their first real foray into Bolivian territory, Venezuela earned a corner which was met with a towering header by Oswaldo Vizcarrondio - not for the first time this campaign - for the opening goal. The second half was wide open, but Bolivia didn't work Vega enough and Venezuela held out for a well-earned win and a share of top spot that their steady improvement over the last four years has warranted. Bolivia look to have no chance.
Two late goals helped Ecuador get past Peru and into fourth place. Cristian Benitez laid the first on a plate for Edison Méndez after a surging run down the middle of the park and Benitez finished the second after brilliant work from Jaime Avoyí down the left hand side. Chile put their disappointments from the Uruguay game behind them with a morale-boosting win over Paraguay. A Matías Fernández corner was met with a bullet header by Pablo Contreras midway through the first half to give Chile the lead. They wrapped up the three points late on as Mauricio Isla teed up Matias Campos whose 20-yard effort took a huge deflection to loop over Diego Barreto and in for 2-0.

The competition goes into cold storage now until June next year when everyone will reconvene for another double-header.
On June 1st 2012, they line up like this:
Argentina v Ecuador
Bolivia v Chile
Peru v Colombia
Uruguay v Venezuela

And a week later, it's:
Bolivia v Paraguay
Venezuela v Chile
Uruguay v Peru
Ecuador v Colombia

Brasileirão Petrobras - Week 34

São Paulo 2-0 Avaí
Fluminense 1-2 América Mineiro
Figueirense 2-1 Atlético Mineiro
Corinthians 2-1 Atlético Paranaense
Ceará 2-3 Santos
Coritiba 2-0 Flamengo
Grêmio 2-2 Palmeiras
Vasco da Gama 2-0 Botafogo
Cruzeiro 1-0 Internacional
Atlético Goianiense 0-1 Bahia

The Avaí hangman has his hand firmly on the trap door lever after they were pushed to the brink of relegation after a 2-0 defeat to São Paulo in the Morumbi. Luís Fabiano was the hero for the home side with his first two league goals since his return from Sevilla. The first came twelve minutes after the break and the second followed eight minutes later as São Paulo continue their fight for a Libertadores spot. The Premier Sports TV Cameras were on hand to see América-MG cap a remarkable week after they followed up victory over Corinthians by stunning Fluminense in the Engenhão. Kempes put the visitors ahead seven minutes before the break and the 40,000 strong crowd were left stunned when Alessandro double the lead twelve minutes from time. Substitute Rafael Moura pulled a goal back three minutes later to set up a frantic finish but Fluminense's hopes of retaining their title were surely left shattered by this defeat. What price Figueirense for the title after they made it six wins on the spin with a come from behind victory that stopped the mini revival of Atlético-MG. After winning their last three, Atlético-MG took the lead eight minutes before the break when Werley put them ahead. Figueirense levelled seven minutes after the break through their leading scorer Wellington Nem before Julio Cesar grabbed a winner three minutes from time to leave them in a Libertadores spot.

Corinthians will go into week 35 top of the pile after a fast and furious start gave them victory over Atlético-PR at the Pacaembu. With just two minutes on the clock Paulinho, who was being watched by representatives from Milan, put the home side ahead and Emerson doubled the lead just three minutes later. Paulo Baier pulled a goal back for Atlético-PR three minutes after the break but the home side held on for a vital victory. Santos are on their best league run of the season as they continued their preparations for the FIFA Club World Cup with victory over Ceará at the Castelão. Bruno Aguair put Santos ahead with ten minutes gone but Ceará went into the break ahead thanks to a Felipe Azevedo penalty with twenty four minutes gone and thirteen minutes later Osvaldo put the relegation threatened home side ahead. A second for Bruno Aguair levelled matters six minutes after the break before Diogo got the Santos winner with an absolute stunner eighteen minutes from time. Flamengo's title challenge also seems to be over after they fell to defeat at Coritiba in front of the Premier Sports TV cameras. Two goals in the space of six first half minutes from Leonardo and a deflected effort from Maranhão were enough to make it three wins in a row for Coritiba and leave Vanderlei Luxemburgo wondering what just has gone wrong this season. Palmeiras were moments away from a first win in eight but had to settle for a point after throwing a two goal lead away at Grêmio. Cicinho put Palmeiras ahead with twenty five minutes gone and when Marcos Assunção doubled the lead on the hour they were on course to become the fourth team to take the points from the Olímpico this season. However, Brandão pulled a goal back eight minutes later before Fernando rescued a point for the Tricolor with an injury time leveller.

Arguably the biggest game of the weekend was at the São Januário where it was second v fourth in the Clássico Alvinegro between Vasco da Gama and Botafogo. After their remarkable fightback in the Sudamericana in midweek it was Vasco who vitally hit the front with a quarter of an hour gone when Fellipe Bastos struck. After his double in midweek, Dedé got the second on the hour and although Vasco were reduced to ten when Rômulo was sent off seven minutes later there was to be no revival from Botafogo who must now surely prioritise a finishing spot in a Libertadores position. Cruzeiro hauled themselves out of the relegation zone when they dented Internacional's Libertadores hopes in Sete Lagoas. Argentinian strike Ernesto Farias with the vital goal with twenty minutes on the clock. The win puts Ceará back into the relegation zone with four games to go. Finally Bahia moved seven points clear of the relegation zone at the Serra Dourada when they inflicted a fourth straight defeat for Atlético-GO. Souza got the crucial goal for the Salvador club with just ten minutes gone but twenty minutes later he was sent off alongside the home side's Gilson after the two had been swinging the handbags.

The final midweek round takes place in midweek, the two main title protagonists are both hit the road with Corinthians at Ceará, Vasco at the Pacaembu to take on Corinthians' main rival Palmeiras and a huge relegation clash in Florianópolis between Avaí and Cruzeiro. They line up like this

Fluminense x Grêmio
Internacional x Bahia
Atlético Paranaense x São Paulo
América Mineiro x Botafogo
Palmieras x Vasco da Gama
Avaí x Cruzeiro
Ceará x Corinthians
Santos x Atlético Goianiense
Flamengo x Figueirense
Atlético Mineiro x Coritiba

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Friday, 11 November 2011

Copa Sudamericana - Week 15

Vasco da Gama 5-2 Universitario
3-3 on points, Vasco da Gama advances on goal difference
Vélez Sarsfield 3-2 Santa Fe
Vélez Sarsfield advances 4-1 on points

Now we mentioned last week that taking a two goal lead to the São Januário sometimes isn't enough. Well having a three goal lead on aggregate in the São Januário isn't enough either after a remarkable Vasco da Gama fightback saw them qualify to the semi finals at the expense of Universitario of Peru. Vasco took the lead half way through the first half when Diego Souza converted from the spot but ten minutes later the visitors were level on the night when Raul Ruidíaz finished off a sweeping counter attack. The second half started with both side being reduced to ten men when Souza was dismissed alongside Antonio González of Universitario after a few verbal hangbags. The visitors then stunned the home fans when they went three up on aggregate two minutes later when Jesus Rabanal long range shot took a deflection off Dedé. A header from Elton a minutes later levelled matters on the night and Dedé edged Vasco ahead three minutes short of the hour after a horrific goalkeeping error. Rabanal became the second scorer on the night to be sent off when he saw red on the hour and a Dedé header levelled the tie on goals seventeen minutes from time. Universitario were still on their way through thanks to the away goals rule but eight minutes from time Alecsandro converted a Juninho Pernambucano corner to leave the home side still dreaming of a possible treble success.

Vélez Sarsfield advanced to the semi-finals after a controversial second leg victory over Santa Fe in Buenos Aires. Following the 1-1 draw last week a penalty shoot out was soon deemed unnecessary when a brace from former West Ham player Guillermo Franco put Vélez two up inside the opening twenty minutes. The first a header after a shot had bounced off the woodwork and the second a cool finish after a sweet back heel in the build up. In their first appearance at this state Wilson Gutierrez's Santa Fe side were determined to keep plugging away. Jonathan Copete's toe poker got Santa Fe back the game a minute after the break before an Omar Pérez penalty put the visitors ahead on away goals half way through the second half and a shock was on the cards. In injury time Vélez got out of jail when referee Enrique Osses pointed to the spot for the second time in the game and Juan Martínez held his nerve under huge pressure and netted the penalty to send Vélez through to the last four.

Next week the semi final line up is completed with both games covered by Premier Sports TV

Libertad v LDU Quito - Thursday 2215 GMT
Universidad de Chile v Arsenal - Friday 0045 GMT

The Semi final draw is currently as follows....

Vélez Sarsfield v LDU Quito/Libertad
Universidad de Chile/Arsenal v Vasco da Gama

If Arsenal qualify next week then the semi finals will be

Vélez Sarsfield v Arsenal
Vasco da Gama v LDU Quito/Libertad

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You can subscribe at or by calling 0871 663 9000

Monday, 7 November 2011

Brasileirão Petrobras - Week 33

Botafogo 0-1 Figueirense
Bahia 4-3 São Paulo
Atlético Mineiro 2-0 Grêmio
Santos 2-0 Vasco da Gama
Flamengo 5-1 Cruzeiro
Avaí 1-2 Ceará
América Mineiro 2-1 Corinthians
Palmeiras 0-2 Coritiba
Internacional 1-2 Fluminense
Atlético Paranaense 2-1 Atlético Goianiense

Week 33 and another set of crazy results as the title race hots up in Brazil. None more so at the Engenhão on Sautrday night as in form Figueirense made it twelve without defeat after a sixth minute goal from Julio Cesar was enough to give them victory. Contrast the form of Figueirense to São Paulo who have now gone nine games without a win after throwing away at two goal lead in Salvador against Bahia. Wellington put São Paulo ahead with nine minutes gone but Bahia levelled a minute after the break through Souza. Two minutes later Lucas Silva restored the São Paulo lead and when Cícero made it three on the hour you expected it to be game over. However, Lulinha halved the deficit eight minutes later before Fahel levelled matters seventeen minutes from time. The own goal from Luiz Eduardo seven minutes from time summed things up for São Paulo`s current luck and gave Bahia a vital victory in their relegation fight. Atlético-MG were another team to ease their relegation worried with a comfortable victory over Grêmio in Sete Lagoas depite the 53rd minute sending off of Neto Berola. André had put Atlético-MG ahead four minutes before the break and the ten men doubled their lead fourteen minutes courtesy of Marquinhos.

Sunday saw the Premier Sports TV cameras at the Vila as the title hope of Vasco da Gama suffered a blow as Santos registered a 2-0 victory. Neymar set Santos on their way with just three minutes gone and a twenty third goal of the season for Borges sixteen minutes from time wrapped things up. Flamengo are still in the title hunt after their destruction of Cruzeiro at the Engenhão. It all started well for the relegation threatened visitors when Anselmo Ramon put them ahead half way through the first half but Deivid levelled nine minutes before the break to go ahead of Ronaldinho Gáucho as the clubs leading scorer. A second from Deivid three minutes after the break put Flamengo ahead and a hat-trick in the space of sixteen minutes from Thiago Neves completed the rout. Despite opening the scoring the day finished on a low note for Anselmo Ramon when he was sent off six minutes from time. The big relegation battle in Florianópolis went the way of the visitors as Ceará snapped a four game losing streak to pick up a vital victory at Avaí. Thiago Humberto put Ceará ahead with fifteen minutes gone and Felipe Azevedo doubled the lead twelve minutes after the break. William pulled on back for Avaí on the hour and it seems their three year stay in the top flight is almost over.

With Vasco losing the stage was set for Corinthians to open up a lead at the top of the table but they had not reckoned with an América-MG side fighting for their Série A lives. A Fábio Júnior penalty put América-MG ahead nine minutes before the break but Corinthians also levelled from the spot on the stroke of half time through Chicão. A point was enough toedge Corinthians ahead at the top of the table but Amaral snatched a dramatic América-MG winner three minutes from time. It has been eight week since Palmeiras tasted victory and their tumble down the table continued when they were defeated by Coritiba at Arena Barueri. Davi put Coritiba ahead half way through the first half and Leonardo doubled the lead eleven minutes after the break. Palmeiras finished with then men after João Vitor was sent off twelve minutes from time. Fluminense remain in title contention after victory at the Beira-Rio against Internacional. Rafael Moura put the Tricolor ahead with seventeen minutes gone but Oscar levelled for Inter eight minutes before the break. Rafael Sóbis got the Fluminense winner on the stroke of half time as Inter finished with ten men after the dismissal of Juan nine minutes from time. Atlético-PR continue their fight against the drop after a come from behind victory over Atlético-GO at the Arena de Baixada. Anselmo put Atlético-GO ahead with twenty six minutes gone and it was not until two minutes after the break that the home side levelled through Federico Nieto. The Argentinian star then got the Atlético-PR winner nine minutes later but they remain a point away from safety.

Five games to go as they line up for week 34 in the Brasileirão Petrobras and they line up like this, the big game is the Clásico Alvinegro at the São Januário.

São Paulo x Avaí
Fluminense x América Mineiro
Figueiranse x Atlético Mineiro
Corinthians x Atlético Paranaense
Ceará x Santos
Coritiba x Flamengo
Grêmio x Palmeiras
Vasco da Gama x Botafogo
Cruzeiro x Internacional
Atlético Goianiense x Bahia

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Friday, 4 November 2011

Copa Sudamericana - Week 14

Santa Fe 1-1 Vélez Sarsfield 
Universitario 2-0 Vasco da Gama
Arsenal 1-2 Universidad de Chile
LDU Quito 1-0 Libertad 

The Quarter Finals got underway this week with all the action beamed back to the UK on Premier Sports TV. In Bogotá on Tuesday night Santa Fe and Vélez Sarsfield got the action underway and it will be the Argentinian side who will be the happier going into the second leg. A free kick Gerardo Beyoda from 30 yards out left Vélez keeper rooted to the spot after a deflection to send the large home crowd wild. Vélex stuck in there and levelled  fourteen minutes from time when a drive from the edge of the area from David Ramírez found the corner of the net. Santa Fe goalscorer Beyoda will though miss the second leg when he was sent off six minutes from time. Vasco da Gama really do have more pressing engagements domestically so it was not the strongest side that made the trip to Callao to take on Universitario. The home side took the lead eight minutes before the break when Manuel Ruidíaz converted from the spot. Universitario doubled their lead on the hour when Johan Fano sprung the offside trap and poked the ball past Fernando Prass in the Vasco goal. As Aurora know, a two goal lead going to the São Januário sometimes isnt enough to see you through.

In Avellaneda, Arsenal entertained the conquerors of Flamengo, Universidad de Chile. A small crowd greeted the early kick off at the Estadio Julio Humberto Grondona and the first half didnt live up to much until La U took the lead in first hald injury time. Eduardo Vargas springing the offside trap and just beating Cristian Camestrini in the Arsenal goal to the ball before rolling it into an empty net. The home side were level two minutes after the break Mauro Obolo tapping in from three yards out after Lisandro López found space down the left hand side. La U though will take a lead back to Santiago next week after Gustavo Canales converted from the spot eight minutes from time to leave the Chilean side in the box seat for next week. Finally in Quito, 2009 winners LDU will take a single goal lead to Asunción next week after a late strike from substitue Luis Bolaños gave them victory over Libertad. The visitors were determined to go to the second leg level but missed their fair share of chances in the game. The game though was decided by a moment of luck or skill, call it what you want. It looked nothing more than a harmless hopeful cross from Luis Bolaños but it looped over Bernardo Medina in the Libertad goal and into the net for a vital lead.

Two of the second legs take place next week with the others the week after and all games will be covered by Premier Sports TV

Vasco da Gama v Universitario
Libertad v LDU Quito

Premier Sports TV is the home of South American Football in the UK
You can subscribe at or by calling 0871 663 9000