S.America Round-up: Libertad win Paraguay title

BUENOS AIRES - Libertad won the Paraguayan championship for the fourth time in a row on Sunday when they beat Sol de America 4-1 to clinch the title on the last day of the season.

Deportivo San Martin moved closer to winning the 2008 Peruvian championship by losing 1-0 to Cesar Vallejo, the defeat proving to be beneficial thanks to the intricacies of the tournament's format.

PARAGUAY

Libertad clinched the Clausura championship to continue their recent dominance of Paraguayan football.

Colombian Vladimir Marin set them on their way by scoring from a free kick and a header in a four-minute spell midway through the first half.

Jorge Cacares headed one back for Sol in the 33rd minute, the refereeing ruling that the ball crossed the line before being cleared by goalkeeper Victor Centurion.

Victor Caceres and Manuel Maciel added further goals in the second half.

Libertad finished with 44 points from 22 games, one ahead of Guarani whose 2-0 win over 12 de Octubre was in vain, although it guaranteed them a place in next year's South American Libertadores Cup.

Cerro Porteno and Olimpia, traditionally the country's two big clubs, finished third and seventh respectively after another disappointing season.

Libertad previously won the 2006 and 2007 titles when only one championship was held per season. This year, the Paraguayan FA changed the system to two separate championships known as the Apertura and Clausura and Libertad won both.

PERU

Deportivo San Martin fielded a reserve team against Cesar Vallejo and lost 1-0, but the result took them closer to winning the 2008 championship.

San Martin have already won the second stage of the championship with three matches to spare and are now completing their fixtures.

They are due to face first-stage winners Universitario in the end-of-season final. However, if Universitario fail to finish in the top seven of the second stage, they will lose the right to play the final and hand San Martin the title.

Universitario began the weekend's games in tenth place, two points behind Cesar Vallejo, so that if San Martin won their game, it would have meant they were helping Universitario's cause.

In the event, Universitario, who had complained bitterly at San Martin's decision to field reserves, dropped to 11th after being held 0-0 by relegated Sport Boys.

They now need an improbable combination of results next Sunday, including victory for San Martin over seventh-placed Jose Galvez.

In another game, Alianza Lima, one of the country's biggest clubs, guaranteed first-division survival with a 1-0 win over arch-rivals Sporting Cristal.

ECUADOR

Barcelona fans protested angrily after their team were held 1-1 by El Nacional on the final day of the championship and missed out on a place in next year's Libertadores.

Media reports said around 100 angry fans tried to break into the dressing-room after the game, forcing the players and coach Reinaldo Merlo to be led out of the stadium under a police escort.

At the end of the game, a man ran onto the pitch and appeared to punch the referee before running off.

Pedro Quinonez fired El Nacional into the lead in the 26th minute and Pablo Palacios levelled after halftime with his 20th goal of the season, but it was not enough.

Barcelona finished fifth in the six-team final stage, one point behind El Nacional who followed champions Deportivo Quito and third-placed Deportivo Cuenca into the Libertadores.

LDU, who finished second, qualified for the Libertadores as defending champions. Deportivo Quito wrapped up the title on Wednesday.

CHILE

Colo Colo and Palestino won their respective semi-finals on away goals to reach the 2008 Clausura championship final.

Lucas Barrios scored twice, taking his tally this year to 35 goals, to help Colo Colo draw 2-2 with Cobreloa and 5-5 on aggregate.

A goalless draw at home to Rangers was enough for modest Palestino, who drew 2-2 away in the first leg.

COLOMBIA

Independiente Medellin stayed top of Group A in the Clausura championship's semi-final stage with a 1-0 win over La Equidad, Juan Guillermo Cuadrado scoring the only goal.

Medellin have 10 points from four games, three ahead of Deportes Tolima who beat Atletico Nacional 2-1.

America lead Group B with eight points after a 2-0 win over Atletico Junior while striker Carlos Darwin Quintero scored a hat-trick as Pereira beat Deportivo Cali 3-1 to stay two points behind.

Pereira were without suspended goalkeeper Rene Higuita, who has made his latest comeback at the club at the age of 42.