Apertura goes to playoffs
The Apertura championship ended in a three-way tie on Sunday as leading trio San Lorenzo, Boca Juniors and Tigre all won their final games to finish level on points at the top and force a playoff. Goal difference is not used to decide the title and a three-way playoff will be held, the first in the tournament’s history, with matches on Wednesday, Saturday and Dec. 23. All three teams won by single-goal margins on a tense afternoon to finish with 39 points from 19 games. San Lorenzo won 1-0 at Argentinos Juniors, Tigre beat Banfield by the same score and Boca beat Colon 3-2 after racing into a three-goal lead in less than half an hour. Defending champions River Plate finished bottom of the table after drawing their final game 1-1 with Estudiantes on Saturday. River won only two games and managed a paltry 14 points in their campaign, but did not go down as relegation is decided by average points over three seasons.
Panathinaikos go third
Dimitris Salpingidis, Cleyton and Ante Rukavina scored on Sunday for Panathinaikos to beat Panserraikos 3-0 and move within seven points of the Greek league lead. Salpingidis converted a penalty just before halftime to make it 1-0 after Panathinaikos had squandered at least two major scoring chances early in the game. Panathinaikos, who finished top of their Champions League group to advance to the knockout stage, made it 2-0 with a goal by Cleyton in the 53rd minute. Croatian striker Ante Rukavina came off the bench in the 73rd minute to score 10 minutes later off a cross from Brazilian midfielder Mattos. Olympiakos, who drew 1-1 at Larissa on Saturday, lead the standings with 33 points. PAOK have 29 points and Panathinaikos are third with 26 points. Also on Sunday, it was Levadiakos 2, Panthrakikos 0; Thrasivoulos 1, Panionios 3; Ergotelis 1, OFI 3 and Aris 1, AEK Athens 1.
Mineiro re-appoint Leao
Former Brazil coach and goalkeeper Emerson Leao has been named coach of Atletico Mineiro and will return for a third stint at the Belo Horizonte club. Atletico’s Web site said on Sunday that Leao had agreed terms with president Alexandre Kalil to rejoin the club almost exactly a year after leaving. Three coaches have been employed since Leao left, Geninho, Gallo and Marcelo Oliveira. Leao played for Brazil at the 1974 and 1978 World Cups and was reserve in 1970 and 1986. He coached the national team for eight months between 2000 and 2001, but was sacked after his side lost to Australia at the Confederations Cup. Leao’s coaching career has also taken him to Brazilian clubs including Sport Recife, Palmeiras, Corinthians, Sao Paulo, Sao Caetano, Coritiba, Atletico Paranaense and Cruzeiro, Japan’s Verdy Kawasaki and Shimizu S-Pulse and Qatar’s Al Sadd.
Toluca take the title
Toluca won their ninth Mexican title when they beat Cruz Azul 7-6 on penalties in Sunday’s second-leg final of the Mexican Apertura. Toluca won the first leg 2-0 on Thursday, but Cruz Azul scored two goals on Sunday, tying the aggregate score. Cruz Azul’s Alejandro Vela scored first in the 49th minute. Defender Julio Cesar scored in the 78th minute with a header after a corner. Vela missed a penalty. Toluca had a clear opportunity to take the lead in the 16th minute when Chilean Hector Mancilla sent a cross to Nestor Calderon, whose shot at goal was blocked by goalkeeper Yosgart Gutierrez. Cruz Azul also lost in this year’s Clausura final to Santos.