Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Mexico: Tigres end long wait for national title (video)

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on December 12, 2011

Tigres are the new champions of Mexico following their 4-1 aggregate victory over Santos Laguna in the Torneo Apertura (Opening Championship) final.

Tigres had finished in third place in the regular season table with a record of seven wins, seven draws and three defeats from seventeen games, before going on to defeat Pachuca CF and Queretaro FC in the play-offs on their way to the final.

The first leg of the final, which was played last Thursday, saw Tigres claim a narrow 1-0 win over hosts Santos Laguna with an early goal from Damián Álvarez separating the two sides. Yesterday saw Tigres fall behind in the return fixture with Oribe Peralta levelling the scores on aggregate. The second half, however, saw Tigres restore the lead through Hector Mancilla and the game would be settled as a contest with Danilinho and Alan Pulido finishing off matters by making the score 3-1 on the night.

The championship win was Tigres’ first domestic title since 1982, a long wait of 29 years, and also secured a place in the 2012 Copa Libertadores.


Argentina: Boca Juniors reacquaint themselves with title winning ways (video)

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on December 5, 2011

After a three year drought, Boca Juniors finally claimed the Argentinian title following last night’s 3-0 win at home to CA Banfield in the Torneo Apertura (Opening Championship). Boca only needed one point to be sure of the title but sealed the deal with a win in front of their loyal followers at the Bombonera stadium in Buenos Aires and begin the celebrations with two rounds of matches still to be played in the first half of the Argentinian season.

Dario Cvitanivich bagged a brace in the first half with Diego Rivero grabbing Boca’s third just sixty seconds into the second half which left the rest of the game to be enjoyed as a title winning party for fans of Los Xeneixes. The celebrations were all the more joyous given that nobody expected Boca to win the title this season especially given the difficulties they had suffered in recent years. With relegation matters determined by a three year averages system Boca were far from safe at the start of the 2011-12 campaign with the club lying in 15th place in the relegation table before a ball was kicked in anger. With Boca’s arch rivals River Plate having faced the drop for the first time in their history last season, thoughts were more centred on staying safe rather than lifting silverware.

However Boca have turned their fortunes around in great style. After 17 of the scheduled 19 games of the Apertura, Boca still remain unbeaten with a record of eleven wins and six draws. Boca have scored 22 goals so far, the best in the league, but it is their defence which has significantly improved having only let in a measly four goals in this campaign. If they keep that up then they could be the first team to win both Apertura and Clausura championships since they themselves did it as recently as six years ago. This may not be so far fetched with their relegation worries now relieved, the club having lifted themselves to a very healthy sixth place in the averages table. For now it is the immediate present that concerns Boca and the league title, their 24th in the professional era, is now something that their fans can enjoy for themselves as opposed to celebrating the misfortune of their rivals.

Argentina: Rafaela set the pace in new campaign (+video)

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on August 29, 2011

Four games into the new Argentinian football season and a surprise name currently tops the table. Atlético de Rafaela, newly-promoted outfit from the town of Rafaela in Santa Fe province, have started off with three wins and a defeat in the 2011-12 Torneo Apertura and will obviously have to do a lot in order to stay there especially as traditional clubs such as Boca Juniors, Racing Club and defending champions Vélez Sársfield are hanging on their coat tails.

The new boys won at the weekend at home to Club Olimpo by three goals to one and it is games such as those against teams at the bottom of the table that Rafaela will have to win if they are to progress in the top flight. The club last played at this level in 2003-04 where, having finished 19th in the Apertura and 12th in the Clausura, Rafaela had to face a two-legged play-off against Huracán de Tres Arroyos and they were unable to reach the first division again until last season. The only blemish on their record so far is a 3-1 home defeat to Arsenal de Sarandi but it’s the three victories over Olimpo, All Boys and Banfield that will have done the team a lot of good upon their return and if the strike force of Darío Gandín and Alexis Castro, who have scored five of their eight goals so far, can keep up that ratio then it is feasible that the club can perform well this season although it would be asking a lot for them to be considered championship contenders just yet.

It also helped that many of the front runners were unable to win any of their games at the weekend and hand the early-season initiative over to Rafaela. Boca Juniors had the chance to top the table yesterday at home to San Lorenzo but could manage a 1-1 draw. Racing Club and Lanus also blew their opportunities on Saturday night when drawing 0-0 at home to Arsenal and Tigre respectively whilst defending champions Vélez Sársfield lost out in a surprise 1-0 defeat at home to All Boys so the early season gods seem to be smiling upon Rafaela at the moment.

Interest in the Argentinian second tier has increased significantly due to River Plate’s relegation and the Millionarios have begun their 2011-12 campaign well with three straight victories, the only team to have done so in the Nacional B division. Their latest win came at home to Sportivo Desamparados with a 3-1 victory coming courtesy of goals from Lucas Ocampos, Carlos Sanchez and Alejandro Dominguez.

Mexico: Can Monterrey win third straight Apertura?

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on July 22, 2011

Monterrey CFThe Mexican football season kicks off this weekend with eighteen teams hoping to claim the Apertura (Opening) Championship. UNAM Pumas are the most recent Mexican champions following their 2010-11 Clausura (Closing) Championship success but Monterrey will hope to repeat their 2010-11 Apertura title triumph.

The new season will see a slightly different format in the first stage of each championship. Instead of the eighteen teams being split into three different groups there will now be just one championship table which will clearly decipher who the best eight teams of the regular season are and will, thus, decide the post-season play-off fixtures which ultimately decide each championship. Monterrey are looking for a third straight Apertura championship having won the 2009 & 2010 editions but will also have to pay attention to their CONCACAF Champions League campaign which they enter this season as title holders following their 3-2 aggregate win over American side Real Salt Lake in last season’s final.

UNAM Pumas have been largely inactive in the transfer window and have added no further players to their squad thus far. The champions, who won a 7th domestic crown last season, will also be participating in the CONCACAF Champions League along with the two best non-champion teams of the 2010-11 campaign Monarcas Morelia and Santos Laguna. Club America, traditionally the biggest club in Mexico, haven’t won a domestic title for six years but after signing last season’s Apertura top scorer Christian Benitez from Santos Laguna hopes are high that they can challenge for a title this time around.

The situation regarding relegation in Mexico is similar to that in Argentina in which each team’s points average over three seasons (six championships) will determine who goes down into the second tier Liga de Ascenso next season. Tijuana, from the north west of the country on the Mexico-US border, will naturally start with zero points in the averages table having been promoted last season at the expense of Necaxa. They will be hoping to have a good season so that they can climb above the likes of Estudiantes Tecos (1.0441 average), Queretaro (1.0882), Jaguares (1.1324) and Atlas (1.1471) who lie immediately above them at the commencement of the new campaign.

Estudiantes Tecos will begin the new season on Friday, 22 July with a home match against Toluca. Four matches take place on Saturday, the biggest of them being Pachuca v Santos Laguna, whilst Sunday will also see four games played with defending champions UNAM Pumas at home to San Luis while last season’s Apertura champions Monterrey face a potentially tricky away tie at Jaguares.

Mexico: Champions Four lead the way in Apertura (+video)

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on September 27, 2010
Cruz Azul v Monterrey

Cruz Azul (light blue shirts) and Monterrey have the best records in the Apertura after nine games

Nine matches into Mexico’s 19 game Torneo Apertura regular season and it is the quartet of teams who are currently gracing the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) who have the best records amongst all of the teams in their domestic top flight. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog reviews the latest developments.

For those unfamiliar with the make-up of Mexico’s domestic league the championship is split into two halves: Torneo Apertura (Opening Championship) and Torneo Clausura (Closing Championship). In each championship eighteen teams are split into three groups of six and every team plays each other once during the regular season. The eight teams with the best records then begin the knockout phase to decide the winner of that particular championship. At the moment the Apertura has effectively reached the halfway stage and the four teams with the best records are currently those same four involved in North and Central America’s elite club competition, reviews of which you can read about on Stoppage Time throughout the season.

Two of the CONCACAF representatives top the standings in Group 1 where Monterrey (the only team with a 100% record in the CCL) and Santos Laguna have been fighting for the leadership over the weekend. Monterrey were top going into Matchday 9 but were held to a goalless draw away at Querétaro which allowed Santos Laguna the opportunity to go to Club América and reclaim the leadership. Alas they were defeated in an exciting game by the odd goal in five as goals from Christian Benítez and Fernando Arce were not enough for Santos as they lost 3-2 with all of the goals coming in the first half. In the group standings Monterrey have 19 points from 9 games but Santos are a point behind with a game in hand.

Group 2 sees Toluca hold a narrow one point lead following their weekend victory 2-1 away at Monarcas Morelia. All of the goals came in the second half with Hugo Droguett’s 54th minute goal for the home side being sandwiched by strikes from Toluca’s Héctor Mancilla (51 mins) and Néstor Calderón (67 mins) which allowed the visitors to come away with the three points. Real San Luis had the chance to go above Toluca prematurely on Saturday night but missed out after they succumbed to a 2-1 defeat away at Jaguares. Both teams went in at the break tied at 1-1 and it was a goal from Jaguares’ Carlos Ochoa midway through the second half which proved decisive. Club América, following their Sunday victory against Santos, now lie second in the group.

The team with the best record at this stage is Cruz Azul. The 2009 CCL finalists have a nine point advantage over Jaguares at the top of Group 3, this despite going down to a 2-1 defeat on Saturday away at Necaxa. Christian Giménez’s 66th minute penalty halved the deficit for Cruz Azul after Darío Gandín (13 minutes) and Nicolás Pavlovich (36 mins) had given the home side a healthy two goal cushion at half time. Unfortunately Cruz Azul were unable to find an equalizer but that shouldn’t deter the team from finding their way into the play-offs as they currently hold a 7-0-2 record after nine games and are well on course in both domestic and international competition, just like their fellow group table-toppers.


Argentina: River leave it late to beat Tigre; League Round-Up (+video)

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on August 9, 2010

Seven teams tasted victory on the opening weekend of the 2010-11 Argentinian football season which took place this weekend. Amongst the winners on Matchday 1 of the new Torneo Apertura (Opening Tournament) were River Plate, who have suffered in the last two years and who need a really good season this time around if they are to avoid relegation which is determined on a three-yearly average points system. Other teams to have won this weekend include last season’s Torneo Apertura winners CA Banfield whilst last season’s Torneo Clausura (Closing Tournament) winners Argentinos Juniors went down to a surprise home defeat to Club Atlético Huracán. Buenos Aires giants Boca Juniors could only draw in their opening game of the new season.

River Plate left it late to secure their opening day victory at home against modest CA Tigre thanks to a 90th minute winner from Gabriel Funes Mori, who found himself in the right place at the right time getting on the end of an Ariel Ortega cross to spare the blushes of Los Millionarios. With no continental competition to worry about perhaps this could be the year where River Plate get back on track after what was been a terrible two seasons for them and the club’s minimum aspiration this term must be to qualify for the Copa Libertadores for next season. Defending Apertura champions CA Banfield got off to a winning start at home to newly promoted Club Olimpo but it was the visitors who took the lead as early as the first minute when Alejandro Delorte headed home to give Olimpo a shock lead. Banfield didn’t take long to recover and duly had their equalizer on 27 minutes thanks to a Walter Roldan penalty kick. The winner came just nine minutes later for Banfield when Cristian García headed home from close range following a free-kick to give El Taladro a precious three points.

Other winners on the opening weekend of the new season were Club Atlético Huracán who came from behind away at last season’s Clausura champions Argentinos Juniors. Gonzalo Vargas gave Juniors the lead after just nine minutes and it took the visitors a while to get used to the tempo of the game. But two quick-fire goals in the 67th and 69th minutes from Mariano Martinez and Cesar Montiglio respectively brought a famous win for Los Quemeros. Santiago Silva’s 35th minute was the difference as Vélez Sársfield beat Independiente in one of the “clásicos” of Argentine football while Estudiantes de La Plata (1-0), CA Lanús (2-1) and Racing Club (1-0) recorded opening day victories against Newell’s Old Boys, Arsenal de Sarandi and C.A. All Boys respectively.

Three matches were drawn on the opening weekend and one of the teams content with having to share the points was Boca Juniors. Los Xeneixes were away at CA Godoy Cruz and it was the home side who took the lead on 14 minutes thanks to Roberto Russo but the lead would only last for six minutes with Lucus Viatri levelling the scores in the 20th minute and that was the way the game would remain. Newly promoted Quilmes had a respectable start to their new campaign also drawing 1-1 against Colón Santa Fe, Estaban Fuertes looked to have given Colón victory but Juan Morales scored a stoppage time equalizer to gain a point for Quilmes. The final match of the opening weekend saw a dull 0-0 between Gimnasia y Esgrima de La Plata and San Lorenzo.


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Mexico: Play-Off octet decided

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on April 27, 2010
Víctor Manuel Vucetich

Víctor Manuel Vucetich has led his Monterrey team to the top of the regular season standings

Mexico’s Torneo Bicentenario has reached the end of the regular season and eight teams have qualified for the knockout stage after seventeen gruelling matches. Monterrey CF, who won the Torneo Apertura which constituted the first half of the season, had the best record out of all eighteen teams who, in turn, were split into three distinct groups. “Stoppage Time – International Football Blog” reviews the group standings and looks forward to the play-offs:

GROUP 1 (Guadalajara 17 games/32 points; Toluca 17/30; Atlas 17/24; Querétaro 17/21; Ciudad Juárez 17/15; San Luis 17/14)

Guadalajara topped the group by just two points from Toluca with both teams easily among the best eight in the country. Guadalajara, more commonly known as Chivas, were already assured the top spot in the group as they began the final round of matches four points ahead of their nearest challengers. They ended their campaign against CONCACAF Champions League finalists Cruz Azul with a 1-1 draw whilst Toluca finished with a flourish thanks to a 2-1 over Puebla. Third place Atlas had the tenth best record out of all the teams and, alas, failed to qualify for the next stage.

GROUP 2 (Monterrey 17/36; Club América 17/25; Morelia 17/25; Pachuca 17/25; Chiapas 17/19; Puebla 17/19)

Monterrey coach Víctor Manuel Vucetich has already led his team to the Torneo Apertura this season and his team’s chances of completing a double title triumph are good seeing as they finished the regular season with the best record, therefore guaranteeing themselves the number one seeding for the play-offs. They completed the regular season with a 1-1 draw to third place Morelia who were tied on twenty five points in Group 2 along with Club América and CONCACAF Champions League finalists Pachuca, all of whom qualifed for the play-offs by virtue of having a better goal difference than Cruz Azul from Group 3 who also finished on 25 points after seventeen games.

GROUP 3 (UNAM 17/28; Santos Laguna 17/28; Cruz Azul 17/25; Estudiantes Tecos 17/19; Tigres 17/19; Atlante 17/17)

Both of the top two teams in this group could afford to lose their final round of matches as they had already sealed their place in the top eight teams. UNAM, also known as Pumas, lost 2-0 away at Ciudad Juárez whilst Santos Laguna lost 1-0 away at Club América, a result which guaranteed the home side’s passage into the play-offs. Cruz Azul, who currently lead 2-1 after the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final against Pachuca, needed to win to guarantee themselves a place in the Bicentenario play-offs but were thwarted by Chivas Guadalajara who held them to a 1-1 draw. The two points dropped by Cruz Azul meant that they lost out on a place in the last eight by virtue of having an inferior goal difference to Club América, Morelia and Pachuca.


Monterrey CF v Pachuca CF

Guadalajara v Morelia

Toluca v Club América

UNAM v Santos Laguna

1st Leg – May 1/2; 2nd Leg – May 8/9