Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

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.

Argentina: River Plate to play-off against relegation (+video)

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on June 19, 2011

So it has come down to this for Argentina’s most successful club at domestic level. River Plate, who have amassed 33 domestic championships in their illustrious history, will have to play two matches against second division Club Atlético Belgrano in order to avoid slipping outside Argentina’s top-flight for the first time in their history.

It has been well documented that River Plate, just like many clubs within the Argentinian football league, have suffered an assortment of difficulties both on and off the pitch in recent years but the club’s current plight is perhaps the lowest they’ve been since their foundation in 1901. Although River Plate finished in the top half of the table during the 2010-11 Torneo Clausura, which finishes this weekend, it is for their performances over the last three seasons which has seen them fall into trouble. Argentina’s first division sees an average points spread over the last six championships (three full seasons) determine who goes down at the end of each season. Even River’s great rivals Boca Juniors have had to flirt with the idea over the last couple of seasons as their performances have also been way below their high standards but they always just avoided being sucked into the mire.

The sad thing for River is that they had their destiny in their own hands going into Saturday’s final league game at home to CA Lanús. A win would’ve seen Los Millionarios avoid the relegation play-off scrap altogether but their 2-1 defeat, coupled with Club Olimpo’s 1-0 win over already relegated Quilmes, saw Olimpo scrape above River by 0.141 points thus ensuring their survival. The trauma for River was made worse by the fact that Lanús scored the winning goal three minutes into stoppage time which allowed the home supporters to vent their frustration as the demoralised players left the field.

River and Gimnasia de La Plata will be involved in play-offs whilst Quilmes and Huracán have been relegated automatically.


Mexico: Pumas clinch tense Clausura title (+video)

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on May 23, 2011

UNAM Pumas have won Mexico’s Torneo Clausura thanks to a 3-2 aggregate victory in the final against Monarcas Morelia.

Both teams had shared the goals in a 1-1 draw in Friday’s first leg with Juan Francisco Palencia (UNAM) and Joao Rojas (Morelia) both hitting the target. So the scene was set for a thrilling finish in Sunday’s return fixture, played at the Pumas’ home ground of Estadio Olímpico Universitario, and it was the home side who opened the scoring on 14 minutes with Palencia converting an early spot kick. Just eleven minutes later parity was restored via the same method as Morelia won a penalty of their own which was scored by Jaime Lozano. The goal which ultimately decided the game and the championship came deep in the second half; Javier Cortés scoring an amazing goal which helped his team to their seventh national championship title.


Uruguay: Nacional gain edge with win over Peñarol (+video)

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on May 9, 2011

In Uruguay’s Torneo Clausura on Sunday old rivals Nacional and Peñarol faced each other with both teams level on points at the top of the standings. A win at this late stage of the season would see one of these traditional powers grab the advantage with only three matches left to play. Nacional (played 12, points 28) sneaked ahead of their rivals in the Estadio Centanario on the hour mark after Santiago García ghosted into the penalty area to ram the ball home from just outside the six yard box. It proved to be an important win as Nacional not only gained a three point edge over their eternal rivals but also increased the gap over Torneo Apertura champions Defensor Sporting to four points following their surprise 2-0 away defeat at the hands of Central Español.


Mexico: Favourites Tigres crash out; Clausura Review

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on May 9, 2011
Héctor Reynoso

Héctor Reynoso helped Chivas defeat Tigres

The quarter-final stages in Mexico’s Torneo Clausura have been completed this weekend and for UNAM Pumas, Guadalajara, Morelia and Cruz Azul the dream is still alive.

The biggest shock came courtesy of Guadalajara who disposed of tournament favourites and number one seed Tigres UANL with a 4-2 aggregate victory. Having won the first leg at home 3-1, Guadalajara made a good job of holding on to their two goal aggregate lead in the second leg until the 64th minute when Héctor Mancilla scored to give Tigres hope. Guadalajara restored the two goal advantage just fifteen minutes later through Héctor Reynoso and effectively killed the game as a contest. The Chivas will face off against UNAM in the semi-finals after the Pumas, now the new tournament favourites following Tigres’ elimination, knocked out 2010-11 CONCACAF Champions League winners Monterrey CF from the competition. Although the tie finished 3-3 on aggregate UNAM progress to the final four due to their higher regular season ranking.

Monarcas Morelia, who have only ever been Mexican champions once in their history, remain on course to win a first title since 2000 having overcome the challenge of Club América. Following an impressive 2-1 away win in the first leg, Morelia sealed the deal in the second leg with goals from Joao Rojas (2) and Márquez Lugo helping Monarcas to an overall 5-3 aggregate win. They will meet Cruz Azul in the semi-finals after los Cementos won by the odd goal in three in their two-legged tie against Atlante CF. Christian Giménez’s two goals in Cruz Azul’s 2-1 first leg victory proved crucial as the two teams were unable to break the deadlock in the return fixture played on Saturday.

The two-legged semi-final matches will be played on May 11-12 and May 14-15.

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Mexico: Tigres lead the way going into Clausura Play-Offs

Posted in Uncategorized by peterbein on May 2, 2011

Mexican league logoMexico’s Torneo Clausura has reached the end of the regular season stage with UANL Tigres gaining the first seed ranking going into the knockout rounds. They, along with Pumas UNAM, headed the overall table on 35 points but the Tigres pipped ahead of the Pumas by virtue of a better goal difference (+3).

Tigres ended the regular season on a successful note after defeating Club Atlas 3-0 at home on Saturday night thanks to goals from Héctor Mancilla, Lucas Lobos and Alan Pulido whilst the Pumas faltered in their quest for first seed following their 2-0 defeat at the hands of Club América, for whom Matías Vuoso and Ángel Reyna got on the score sheet. Tigres will face-off against Chivas Guadalajara who, despite losing to Monterrey in their Matchday 17 game, managed to hold out for a play-off spot while Club América’s reward is a play-off tie against Monarcas Morelia who defeated Puebla 2-0 yesterday thanks to a brace from Elías Hernández.

Newly crowned CONCACAF Champions League winners CF Monterrey have the 7th seed in the play-offs and will compete against UNAM Pumas. In the remaining play-off game fourth seeds Atlante CF, 2-1 winners at home to Toluca this weekend, will meet 5th seed Cruz Azul who could only muster a goalless draw this weekend away to Real San Luis. The play-off ties commence this Wednesday, May 4th with the return legs played at the weekend.

2011 CLAUSURA QUARTER-FINALS (Seeds in brackets; second team at home first)

Tigres UANL (1) v Chivas Guadalajara (8)

UNAM Pumas (2) v CF Monterrey (7)

Monarcas Morelia (3) v Club América (6)

CF Atlante (4) v Cruz Azul (5)

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Argentina: Another Surprise Champion in the Clausura (+video)

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on May 17, 2010

The Argentinian domestic championship has had its fair share of surprise champions in recent years and the crowning of Argentinos Juniors on Sunday is another fine example of just how open the league has become in the last couple of seasons. After unexpected successes for Estudiantes de La Plata, Lanús and Banfield in the various Argentine championships since 2005-06 Argentinos Juniors, who were last crowned domestic champions in 1985, held out over the challenge of Estudiantes by winning their final game of the 2009-10 Torneo Clasura (Closing Championship) season 2-1 against Huracán.

Estudiantes, defending South American champions, needed to win their final game against Colon de Santa Fe and hope that Juniors slipped up in their final match but it wasn’t to be. Goals from Juan Mercier in the 23rd minute and Facundo Coria with thirteen minutes of the match remaining gave Argentinos Juniors a two goal cushion which was then reduced by half due to a late strike from Huracán’s Alan Sánchez. At the same time Estudiantes easily won their game in Santa Fe by 4-1 with the league’s top scorer Mauro Boselli helping himself to a hat-trick. For Argentinos Juniors it is only a third championship success in the club’s history after winning the 1984 Metropolitano and 1985 Nacional titles while Estudiantes’s season continues with a Copa Libertadores quarter-final second leg against Brazilians Internacional who hold a 1-0 first leg advantage over los Pincharratas.

Other issues to be decided on the back of the Torneo Clausura were the places for Copa Sudamericana later this year as well as at the bottom of the league. Before Matchday 19 kicked off five out of six places in South America’s second cup competition had been decided with Banfield, Argentinos Juniors, Estudiantes de La Plata, Newell’s Old Boys and Independiente already assured of their participation in the tournament which begins in August. The final day provided some drama as Vélez Sársfield and Lanús played their respective matches against Rosario Central and Independiente. Vélez appeared to have slipped up by drawing their game 0-0 which would see Lanús take the final place with a win but they, too, bottled it losing 1-0 to a late Ignacio Piatti goal. This meant that, in the aggregate table of Apertura and Clausura championships used to determine Sudamericana entrants, Vélez had 61 points compared to Lanús’ 60 points.

At the bottom of the table the two automatic relegation places were known a couple of games ago as Chacarita Juniors and Atlético Tucumán have occupied the bottom two spots in the averages table for some time. There were two places in the promotion/relegation play-offs to be decided and after the days games the unlucky couple to face a season extending set of games against clubs from the second division are Gimnasia de La Plata and Rosario Central.

Watch the Argentinos Juniors Highlights and trophy ceremony here:

Torneo Clausura: “Big Two” suffer again in Argentina

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on February 1, 2010
River Plate Fans

Fans of River Plate didn't have much to shout about in Matchday 1 of the Torneo Clausura losing 1-0 at home to Banfield.

Argentina’s two biggest clubs, River Plate and Boca Juniors, endured a less than successful start to the 2010 Torneo Clausura (Closing Championship) which got under way this weekend.

River were defeated 1-0 at home by the 2009 Apertura (Opening) champions Banfield with Sebástian Fernández scoring the crucial goal sixteen minutes from time to give El Taladro (The Drill) a perfect start to the new campaign. River, who finished 14th in the 2009 Apertura, went into the game with confidence having beaten arch-rivals Boca Juniors in two pre-season events but were found lacking the killer punch. Boca, meanwhile, appeared to be in command at the Estadio Diego Armando Maradona as Martin Palermo gave the Xeneizes (The Genoese) the lead on the stroke of half-time but, with ten minutes to go an own goal from Ezequiel Muñoz allowed hosts Argentinos Juniors to restore parity. In what proved to be a roller coaster finish to the match a Juan Roman Riquelme goal five minutes before full-time wasn’t enough for Boca as they were pegged back again deep into stoppage-time as Victor Ismael Sosa levelled the game for a second time with both teams having to contend with sharing the points. With both Boca and River failing to qualify for the 2010 Copa Libertadores due to poor performances last season it was imperative for both clubs to start well this time around but both came up short and allowed some of the other teams to get ahead.

Copa Libertadores champions Estudiantes de La Plata have ambitions of adding more national titles to their honours board and they began the Torneo Clausura in fine style with a 3-0 home defeat of Arsenal thanks to goals from Marcelo Carrusca (40′) and Mauro Boselli (64′ and 68′). Racing Club, from the Buenos Aires suburb of Avellaneda, also won their opening game 3-0 at home to Rosario Central thanks to Pablo Lugüercio (39′), Matías Martínez (42′) and Claudio Bieler (76′) whilst their arch-rivals Independiente could only muster a 0-0 draw away at the other Rosario club, Apertura 2009 runner-up Newell’s Old Boys.

Lanús had to come from behind in order to prevail in their opening match at home to Hurácan. Patricio Toranzo and Gáston Machín gave the visitors a two goal lead inside 25 minutes but the home side came back late in the game to claim all three points thanks to goals from Gonzalo Castillejos (2 goals) and Maximiliano Velázquez, all three strikes coming in the final seventeen minutes. El Granate had been helped in their comeback when Hurácan’s Gonzalo García was sent-off with six minutes remaining. San Lorenzo are often expected to fight for titles and their campaign got off to a winning start with a 1-0 victory away at Atlético Tucumán, Fabian Bordagaray’s lone strike on twenty four minutes proving decisive.

In the other games on Matchday 1 of the campaign Copa Libertadores participants Colón Santa Fe and Velez Sársfield fought out a 1-1 draw whilst there were two games which, even at this early stage, could have an effect on the relegation standings (in Argentina teams with the worst three-year average points total are relegated). Godoy Cruz secured a much needed 1-0 win against Gimnasia y Esgrima de La Plata whilst, in arguably the weekend’s least glamourous match, Chacarita Juniors won 2-0 away at Tigre.

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