Pumas wins Mexican title; Ronaldinho on target

UNAM Pumas won its seventh Mexican league title on Sunday with a
3-2 aggregate win over Morelia, while Ronaldinho marked his return
to the Brazilian national championship with a goal in Flamengo’s
opening-day win.

Javier Cortes scored a stunning late goal to give Pumas a 2-1
win in the return leg of the Mexican final. The teams drew 1-1 in
the opening leg at Morelia on Thursday.

Former Barcelona forward Ronaldinho’s goal helped Flamengo beat
Avai 4-0, while Sao Paulo downed defending champion Fluminense 2-0
in the Brazilian league’s opening matches.

In Argentina, River Plate and Boca Juniors both drew their
matches and look out of the title race after Velez Sarsfield
stretched its lead atop the Clausura tournament with a 2-0 win
against Gimnasia.

Cortes hit the championship-winning goal for Pumas after beating
three defenders in his run and firing into the top of the net to
beat Morelia goalkeeper Federico Vilar in the 77th minute.

Francisco Palencia opened the scoring for Pumas with a penalty
in the 14th minute, while Jaime Lozano leveled for Morelia with
another spot kick in the 25th.

The win put Pumas fourth on the list of clubs with most
championships, behind Guadalajara (11), America (10), Toluca (9)
and Cruz Azul (8).

In Brazil, Ronaldinho scored his first goal in more than two
months to help Flamengo thrash Avai on Saturday.

The World Cup winner, who joined Flamengo after 10 seasons in
European football, hadn’t hit the net since March 10 in the Rio de
Janeiro state championship.

”I couldn’t have asked for a better return to the Brazilian
league,” Ronaldinho said. ”The focus is on winning the title,
it’s a trophy I haven’t won yet.”

On Sunday, striker Dagoberto and playmaker Lucas scored as Sao
Paulo started the championship with a 2-0 win over reigning
champion Fluminense, while Santos drew 1-1 with Internacional.

Santos, led by coveted young striker Neymar and Brazil
international Elano, is an early favorite for the domestic league
title and is the only Brazilian club through to the semifinals of
the Copa Libertadores.

The 20-team national league is Brazil’s most important and will
be played until December with each team facing each other twice,
home and away. Brazil does not follow the European football
calendar and teams play regional tournaments in each of the
country’s 26 states in the first few months of the year until the
start of the Brazilian league.

In Argentina, Silva scored a sublime chipped goal to give Velez
the lead against Gimnasia in the 26th minute and Moralez secured
the win with a late penalty.

With four matches to play, the win put Velez three points clear
of Godoy Cruz in second place.

River Plate was pegged back by another goalkeeping error from
Juan Carrizo and had to settle for a 1-1 home draw in the Buenos
Aires derby with San Lorenzo.

Carrizo punched a corner into his own net in the
”superclasico” loss against Boca last week and cost River more
valuable points with his latest mistake, failing to stop a weak
long-range shot from Jonathan Ferrari.

Boca also stumbled to a draw, twice coming from behind to finish
level with lowly Arsenal at 2-2.

The results left both clubs practically out of the title race,
with River in fifth on 23 points and Boca in ninth, a point further
back.

River is also stuck in a relegation playoff spot in the table of
average points used to decide which clubs drop out of the top
division.

Elsewhere in Latin America, Nacional maintained its two-point
advantage atop the Paraguayan Apertura standings with a 3-1 win
over Luqueno.

With two matches to go, second-placed Olimpia kept the pressure
up with a 3-0 victory over Rubio Nu.

In Chile, Universidad Catolica qualified for the Apertura
playoffs atop the Apertura table despite conceding a late goal in a
2-2 draw with La Serena.

Traditional powerhouse Colo Colo also scraped through after
rallying to beat Nublense 3-2 and secure eighth position in the
table.

The two clubs will be joined by Universidad de Chile, Union
Espanola, Palestino, O’Higgins, San Felipe and La Calera in the
playoffs.

In Uruguay, Nacional stretched its lead atop the Clausura
tournament with a 1-0 win Saturday against Danubio and only needs a
draw from next week’s match with Defensor Sporting to secure top
spot.

Second-placed Penarol and third-placed Defensor shared a 1-1
draw on Sunday.

The Clausura tournament winner will play Defensor, which won the
Apertura tournament, to decide the overall season champion.