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.