South America review: Racing Club takes lead in Argentina Superliga

(Photo by Gustavo Garello/Jam Media/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gustavo Garello/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

Racing Club shut out Rosario Central in a battle of the top two teams in Argentina. Read more about the Superliga race and other action from South America.

Every league in South America has now played at least four matchdays, except for those leagues on an Apertura/Clausura schedule. Now that we are through the first month of domestic league action, we are beginning to get a better picture about where each clubs stands in the pecking order on respective national levels.

This is all happening concurrently with the Copa Libertadores advancing into the quarterfinals, as the top teams throughout South America are forced to divide their attentions between local action and intercontinental competition.

With all that in mind, how did things shake out in South America this weekend? Keep reading for our review of the biggest stories that took place over the weekend around the continent.

Racing Club takes over the Superliga Argentina in win over Rosario Central

The match of the weekend in South America took place in Rosario, where league leaders Rosario Central faced off against second-place Racing Club. With a win, Central could have taken a five-point lead in the Superliga table after just four matches. But the provincial side could not stay perfect, as Racing Club headed back to Avellaneda with all three points and the spot atop the leaderboard.

There was only so much that Rosario Central could manage on its home pitch. The hosts kept things scoreless through the first half, but soon after the resumption of play in the second half the visitors took the lead. Lisandro, the 34-year-old forward for Racing, tapped in the opening goal in the 50th minute off a corner.

Guillermo Fernández whipped in the corner. Striker Jonatan Cristaldo met the ball for a header, sending the ball off target toward the goal line past the far post. But there Lisandro, unmarked, found the ball and redirected it past Central goalkeeper Jeremías Ledesma.

Racing Club added a second insurance goal in the 84th minute from Augusto Solari, but by then the damage was already complete. Rosario Central managed just one shot on target versus six for their guests. As a result, we saw a changing of the guard this weekend in Argentina as the balance of power shifted back toward the greater Buenos Aires metropolitan area, where it has so long existed in the sport.

Flamengo falling further back in Brazil’s Série A race after another loss

The top three clubs in Brazil’s Campeonato Brasileiro Série A faced more adversity than was expected heading into the weekend. League leaders São Paulo survived a 34th-minute red card to attacking midfielder Diego Souza, gutting out a 1-1 draw against Fluminense to remain atop the Série A table. Internacional also eked out only one point, securing a scoreless draw on the road against Cruzeiro.

Flamengo, however, didn’t manage to keep pace with the two teams ahead of them in the standings. As they got to face a Ceará team mired in the relegation zone, it looked like Flamengo had the upper hand. With a win, the Rio de Janeiro giants would have moved level with Internacional in second place and earned the tiebreaker on total goals.

Instead, Ceará snatched three points in an upset at the Maracanã. Flamengo bombarded the Ceará goal, generating 26 scoring chances and putting nine shots on target. But Ceará goalkeeper Éverson Felipe Marques Pires came up huge against Flamengo, preventing the hosts from getting on the scoreboard.

It looked like the two clubs would split the points through much of the match. Then the visiting cellar dwellers managed to find the net in second-half stoppage time, as winger Leandro Carvalho beat Flamengo keeper Diego Alves on a set-up by substitute Felipe Azevedo. Even with the three points, Ceará remains threatened by relegation. But it also prevented Flamengo from gaining ground on the leaders in the Série A table.

Sporting Cristal continues to dominate in Peru with start of Clausura

Last week, the Apertura concluded in Peru with Sporting Cristal atop the table by five points over Alianza Lima. Cristal had earlier claimed victory in the Torneo de Verano to start the new calendar year. With their continued run of dominance at the moment, Sporting Cristal has earned an undisputed place as the top team in Peru this year.

So far Sporting Cristal has earned points in all but two of their 32 domestic matches in 2018. That trend continued over the weekend, as Cristal kicked off the Clausura season with an emphatic 4-0 victory over Sport Boys.

Flavio Gómez opened the scoring in the 34th minute. Emanuel Herrera added the first of his two goals on the day just three minutes after Gómez put the first on the scoreboard. Gabriel Costa got the third in the 71st minute, and Herrera completed his brace in the 81st minute. Sporting Cristal was incredibly efficient, scoring on four of the six shots they put on target.

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Four other clubs opened the Clausura with victories as well, but Sporting Cristal was the only one to manage a multi-goal win. Once again, Cristal will be the team to chase in Peru as they look to sweep the 2018 competitions on home soil.